Athletic department confident in its decision to bring in coach

Doug Gulasy

Rob Senderoff didn’t want things to be completely the same as they were the first time he was a men’s basketball assistant coach at Kent State.

So Senderoff made one request when he returned this week to become an assistant to new coach Geno Ford: that he get a different office than the previous one he had.

“I told coach Ford I would feel like it’s Groundhog’s Day if I worked in the office that I was at for four years,” Senderoff said. “So I changed offices. It’s a little bit of a new scenery for me.”

A little bit, but not much. Senderoff served as an assistant under previous coach Jim Christian from 2002-06 before leaving to become an assistant coach at Indiana.

Along the way, Senderoff became known as a good recruiter – among others, he brought Mike Scott to Kent State – and a developer of post players, including Antonio Gates and John Edwards.

“He’s just got a lot of strengths – someone that’s very talented,” said Ford, who coached with Senderoff at Kent State from 2002-05. “He wasn’t a Big Ten assistant by accident. He’s just someone that has been highly sought after in this business.”

When Ford learned he had a chance to replace Christian as Kent State coach, he knew he wanted Senderoff to join any potential staff.

“Rob and I had conversations, (and I said): ‘OK, if I do in fact get an opportunity to be the coach at Kent, I want you here,'” Ford said. “And he said he wanted to be here. It was kind of a done deal before it ever started.”

There was just one potential problem. Senderoff resigned from Indiana last October amid a recruiting scandal in which he was alleged to have a prominent role. The scandal later cost Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson his job as well.

Before officially bringing Senderoff back to Kent State, the athletic department made sure it would have no problems by doing so.

“We looked into that (situation) with what I would describe as a very diligent review through our faculty athletic representative, who worked with her counterpart at Indiana,” Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said. “We also did our work with the NCAA staff.

“You never know for sure if there’s ever going to be any more fallout from that; I’m sure there might be. But at the same time, we feel comfortable with what we did that the value that coach Senderoff would bring to us would be significant.”

Kent State wasn’t the only school in the running for Senderoff’s services. Ford said Senderoff had been contacted by two Southeastern Conference schools as well but chose to come back to Kent State because of the strong ties he had to the program.

Senderoff won’t have much time to get used to his new office before beginning his work. The new, old assistant had planned workouts with some of the Flashes’ returning post players yesterday, and the active recruiting period begins today.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].