Boston College named Donahue their new men's basketball coach today. He replaces Al Skinner--the Eagles' all-time leader in wins--who was fired after 13 seasons.
"I told the folks at BC that they made a great hire," Cornell athletic director Andy Noel said. "Our university really wanted to keep Steve. I'm a little heartbroken, but we turn the page and become a BC fan forever. ... We're appreciative that we had a decade with Steve Donahue."
Donahue led the Big Red to a 29-5 record this season — the most wins in Ivy history — and victories over favored Temple and Wisconsin in the NCAAs. The first Ivy team to reach the Sweet 16 in more than 30 years, Cornell lost to No. 1-seeded Kentucky 62-45 in the East Regional semifinals.
"Anytime somebody leaves like that, it's hard to swallow," Cornell guard Louis Dale said in Ithaca, N.Y., where Donahue returned on Tuesday so he could meet with his team on campus. "But you, at the same time, were such a fan of Coach Donahue that we're BC fans now. We want to see him do well.
"That just shows what kind of coach he was and a great person. Just because he's leaving this institution doesn't mean that we're going to turn our backs on him."
Donahue's departure means that Noel must now make his second major coaching hire this year. He brought in Kent Austin as Cornell's new football coach in January to replace a Duke-bound Jim Knowles.
Noel spoke openly on Tuesday about the characteristics he'll be looking for in Steve Donahue's replacement: a grinder who loves recruiting, who loves his players, who is "fascinated" by the X's and O's and the strategies and tactics of the game.
Noel said he had received about eight applications already by early Tuesday afternoon. He declined to name any potential candidates or applicants.