Robert Morris promote Toole to head coach

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Robert Morris did not wait long to hire a new men's basketball coach.

And it did not go far, either.

Andy Toole, associate head coach since 2008, will be named the Colonials' coach at a news conference today, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Toole replaces Mike Rice, who resigned late last week to take the head coaching job at Rutgers.

At 29, Toole will become the youngest Division I men's basketball coach, supplanting Appalachian State's Jason Capel, who is 30.

But Robert Morris guard Karon Abraham, the 2010 Northeast Conference rookie of the year, said Toole's relative youth is not a concern.

"Even though he's 29, his knowledge of the game is as if he's 50," said Abraham, who will be a sophomore next season.

Abraham reiterated he will stay at Robert Morris with Toole at the helm.

"Toole is the guy that recruited me," he said. "I was close to coach Toole before I really knew coach Rice."

Toole was the only candidate to interview for the position and was a unanimous recommendation of the coaching search committee assembled by the university, according to a source. He was offered and accepted the job Monday.

Toole did not return messages seeking comment.

He has been on Robert Morris' staff since Rice was hired in 2007 and for the past two years has been the Colonials' associate head coach.

Like Rice, Toole also was director of the Eastern Invitational Basketball Clinic at the Hoop Group in New Jersey, working with talented East Coast prep players. He worked for one year as an assistant coach at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.

Rice endorsed Toole Sunday on a radio show on 93.7 The Fan and said midmajor programs have had a lot of success staying inhouse to replace departing coaches. Rice used Gonzaga, Kent State and Butler as examples, and Butler advanced to the 2010 NCAA national championship game coached by Brad Stevens, a 33-year-old coach who four years ago was an assistant on the Bulldogs' staff.

Before the hire, Robert Morris athletic director Craig Coleman said Toole was a good candidate because of his intellect and his connections.

"He's very smart," Coleman said. "He's an Ivy League graduate. Rice credited him with a lot of great decisions. He's well-connected and is a great recruiter."

As a player, Toole was a guard at Elon for two years before transferring to Penn, where he graduated with a degree in political science.

Toole inherits a roster loaded with young talent, including Abraham. Toole also helped recruit a strong incoming class that could propel the Colonials to the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.


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