Marty Richter spent the past ten days weighing the pros and cons of leaving a young Division I men’s basketball program in order to start another from scratch at the junior college level.
The positives of becoming the first coach, and a first-time head coach, at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers outweighed the negatives of leaving FGCU, Richter’s employer the previous four seasons.
Richter’s time as an FGCU assistant bridged the gap between when former coach Andy Enfield became the first to guide a No. 15 seed to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament to the current regime of former Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley, who just finished his second season.
“I talked to a lot of Division I coaches during this time,” said Richter, 38, whose wife Brynn and their 11-month-old son Avery attended the introductory news conference Wednesday at FSW.
New women’s coach Kristy Ward, who said she applied on the last day FSW was accepting applications, knew right away that guiding the Buccaneers would be the right fit for her. Ward will continue working at Florida State College at Jacksonville until July 1.
“I think fans can expect an exciting, action-packed game,” said Ward, who has a career record of 384-141 (.730 winning percentage) with 24 years of experience. “We’ll have a high intensity defense and a fast-paced game, run-and-gun style.”
Richter officially will join FSW on May 11. He and Ward each will be making $65,000 a year, according to the college. For Richter, that will be a $5,000 annual pay cut. FSW athletic director Carl McAloose chose Richter from a pool of almost 400 applicants, 19 of which he interviewed. McAloose also interviewed 19 candidates for the women’s job from a pool of almost 250 applicants.
Richter sought advice from many on earning his first head coaching job. Some coaches told him he first must land an assistant coaching job at a higher-profile program than FGCU. Others told him to stay put. Others told him to take the FSW job.
“A couple of days before I decided to take the job, I sat down with Coach Dooley,” Richter said. They discussed Richter’s goals, which ultimately, and now immediately, were becoming a head coach.
“There’s no book,” Richter said on the right way to do it. “There’s no magic formula. What I was trying to figure out was the pulse of what people thought. This is as unique a situation as you can get. Building something is huge. As a coach, you want to take the challenge.”
The challenge Ward and Richter each face for the short term will be not coaching. Neither coach has a game scheduled for the 2015-16 season. The Buccaneers will make their debut at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in the fall of 2016. A ribbon-cutting and ground breaking ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and construction is slated to start in mid-June at the corner of Summerlin and Cypress Lake.
“He’s going to go crazy,” said former FGCU guard Bernard Thompson, whose career at FGCU spanned Richter’s time there. He attended the introductory news conference as did several of his former teammates and FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh.
“He loves the game so much,” Thompson said of Richter. “It’s going to make him sick.”
Richter and Ward will have plenty to do, however, in recruiting their first classes. They each have plans to attend the summer basketball AAU circuit of games.