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DWU coaching search down to final four

When the search for the new Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball coach started there were 122 official applicants, today only four remain.

DWU athletic Director Curt Hart did not release the names of the final four candidates. In addition to the 122 applicants, Hart said he received 25-30 additional inquiries about the job.

Hart said the four coaches will be interviewed Tuesday or Wednesday with the search committee, community committee, DWU President Amy Novak and several members of the DWU men's basketball team.

"We are looking for someone who has connections to young people in our state," Hart said. "That is not the only thing we are looking for but all four of the candidates have local connections, and we feel like they will be able to coach well, work with our kids and deal well with the community."

Hart added in coaching searches, many times phone interviews are conducted but because all four candidates live "fairly close," they were invited to campus for face-to-face interviews. Hart also declined to specify where any of the candidates lived, saying, "They all have connections to South Dakota, but I can't go much farther than that."

The AD did say that none of the final four candidates have ties to the Great Plains Athletic Conference, which is the league the school's athletic programs compete in.

The men's coaching job opened on May 27 when former DWU coach Shane Murphy resigned from the post in order to pursue a job in medical sales with Zimmer Davis in Sioux Falls. Murphy said the new job would be a better fit for him and his family. He compiled a 53-41 record in his three years at the helm of the program.

One name that came up during the initial stages of the search was DWU's women's basketball coach Jason Christensen, who guided his team to a 20-11 season -- the most wins the women's program has finished with since the 2003-04 season when it won 28.

Hart said Wednesday that Christensen would have been a strong candidate had he thrown his name into the hat, but Christensen declined and will continue his job coaching the women next season.

Hart said after the applicants' interviews are completed on Tuesday and Wednesday, the school hopes to hire one of the candidates as quickly as possible.