GW signed men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs to a three-year contract extension last week that will keep him with the Colonials until 2008, a strong show of confidence in a coach that has yet to post a winning season in two years at the helm.
In two seasons, the former University of Connecticut assistant coach has a combined record of 24-33 (.421), including only one postseason victory. But both years, Hobbs has recruited some of the top players in the country, and the team has become more competitive, which is why Athletic Director Jack Kvancz said he is confident enough in the direction of the program to give Hobbs the extension.
“I really like the way he deals with his kids, the students in general and everybody else at the University,” Kvancz said. “And what I don’t want to have happen is for him to have a great year and then by the time I decide to do something, (another school) gets him … or then it costs me a lot more money (to re-sign him).”
Kvancz also said the four-year contract Hobbs initially signed with GW was unusually short. Financial terms of the extension were not disclosed because of a confidentiality clause in the contract, but the deal will keep Hobbs under contract until June 30, 2008, giving him the next five years to turn strong recruiting into a winning basketball program. And Kvancz said he believes Hobbs will do just that.
“The only reason I did it is because I think we’re close,” he said. “If I didn’t think we were going to win, I wouldn’t give him the extension, because then no (other schools) would come knocking on his door, anyway. In the end, you’ve got to win some games, but the signs that I see now are good.”
Hobbs was hired on May 7, 2001 after former coach Tom Penders resigned amidst a series of off-court embarrassments, including players’ use of a coach’s long distance phone card and the arrest of former center Atilla Cosby. Since then, Hobbs said he has been able to change the face of the program both on and off the court.
“There have been changes everywhere,” the coach said. “There’s been a change in a new coach, a change in playing style and the way we do things, there’s been a change in the level of recruiting, and in a sense the type of players that are coming to GW.”
Kvancz acknowledged that extending Hobbs’ contract at this point may seem premature to some, given that most extensions come as a reward for winning games, but added he believes the decision will prove to be well worth the risk.
“People could say, ‘Hey the man’s won 24 ball games, what are you doing?’ And I think that’s a very fair comment to make,” he said. “I’ve got boosters that say the same thing…but they’re not here everyday and seeing what’s happening.”
When the team’s progress becomes more evident with winning seasons, Kvancz said the timing of the University’s decision could also pay off by keeping Hobbs more loyal to GW.
“I think he’s the type of guy that appreciates the fact that we’re behind him,” he said. “So if we ever get to the point where I’m right and he could leave, that’s one of the reasons he won’t, because we were there and supported him when we didn’t have to.”
With four starters returning for next season, the Colonials will be a team of primarily juniors and sophomores. This means the team will likely benefit from not having to rely heavily on its four incoming freshman as it often has in recent years. Still, Hobbs said he appreciates the early vote of confidence.
“I think it’s an indication that (the University) is committed to what we’re doing and the fact that we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.
Hobbs, who lives in Bowie, Md. with his wife and two children, said he also feels more at home now in the GW community.
“I feel very comfortable and very at home here,” he said. “My family is very happy here and I feel very good about what has transpired over the past two years.”