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Marquette AD: Coach search going at 'good pace'

MILWAUKEE (AP) Now that Marquette has hired a new president, the university can return to focusing on finding its next basketball coach.

Interim athletic director Bill Cords said Thursday that incoming President Michael Lovell will be intricately involved in the hiring of a coach after Buzz Williams left last week for Virginia Tech.

Lovell doesn't officially take office until Aug. 1, though he said at his introductory news conference Wednesday that the basketball hiring topped his agenda.

Cords didn't outline a timetable, but said that the search was "going at a good pace." He says he's encouraged by what he calls a good pool of potential candidates.

As expected, Cords did not say who was on Marquette's wish list.

"The criteria is we're going to get the best possible coach we can find," said Cords, who returned to Marquette last year on an interim basis. He previously served as athletic director from 1987-2007.

Cords had said earlier this week that he would stay on in his interim role through next spring to help with the transition

He also said he didn't view Marquette as a "steppingstone" program. Before Williams, Tom Crean left the Golden Eagles for Indiana.

"By far, the program is the strongest it has ever been," said Cords, who has praised Williams for raising the school's basketball profile. "Our pool is good ... I think we're going to have an opportunity to find the best possible coach."

VCU's Shaka Smart, a name that pops up annually on the coaching search rumor mill, could be a possible candidate. VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin said earlier this week that no schools had sought permission to speak to Smart, a native of Madison, Wis.

Former UCLA and Pitt coach Ben Howland has also reportedly expressed interest in the position. Howland coached at Pitt from 1999-2003 before taking the UCLA job.

The hiring of Lovell adds more certainty at the university for the next coach. His biography describes him as an "ardent sports fan and participant." Lovell will be leaving his job as chancellor at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which qualified for the NCAA tournament this season before getting knocked out in the first round by Villanova.

Lovell is from Meadville in western Pennsylvania, and his resume lists undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering from Pittsburgh. He was an associate professor at Pitt in the early 2000s while Howland was head coach.

Updated March 27, 2014

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