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Dartmouth Hires Paul Cormier as Menís Basketball Coach

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By Mark Washburn
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HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth Acting Athletics Director Bob Ceplikas today announced the hiring of Paul Cormier as the college’s head coach of men’s basketball. Having spent most of the past 12 years working with NBA organizations, most recently as an advance scout for the Golden State Warriors, Cormier is beginning his second stint with the Big Green having served as the head coach for seven seasons (1984-91).

Dartmouth will hold a press conference on campus in the Floren Varsity House to introduce Cormier on Monday, April 26 at 1:30 p.m. Audio and video of the press conference will be streamed live on the web site free of charge. Cormier will not be available for comment until the press conference due to a personal family matter.

“We are absolutely determined to build Dartmouth men's basketball into a championship caliber program, and Paul is the ideal person to lead that effort,” Ceplikas stated. “The combination of his college and NBA experience, along with his energy and passion for the game, will make him a terrific recruiter, teacher, mentor, and community leader. We are elated to welcome Paul back to Dartmouth.”

Cormier, 58, spent 14 years as a Division I head coach, splitting his time between Dartmouth and Fairfield while earning 173 wins. Two of Cormier’s Big Green squads posted two of the three winningest seasons at Dartmouth of the past 50 years — the 1987-88 team went 18-8 overall and 10-4 in the Ivy League (missing a share of the Ivy title after a one-point loss in the final game of the season), while the 1988-89 team went 17-9 overall with an identical 10-4 mark in conference play, just one game back in the Ivy standings.

Paul Cormier coached the Big Green to second-place finishes in consecutive years during his first stint at Dartmouth.

After his initial campaign, Cormier’s Big Green teams went 73-57 over the next five years, including 40-30 in the Ivy League. He is the only coach since 1960 to lead the Big Green to consecutive second-place finishes in the conference. One of his first recruits for Dartmouth was Jim Barton ’89, the Green’s all-time leading scorer (2,158 points) and three-point shooter (242 total, 45.4 percent).

“I am thrilled to be back again as part of the Dartmouth community,” said Cormier. “I truly appreciate the confidence that President Kim, Bob Ceplikas and their respective staffs have shown in selecting me to lead the men’s basketball program. Everything I heard throughout the selection process was that men’s basketball needs to be built into a successful program — not just a competitive one, but one that vies for the Ivy championship on an annual basis. That is exactly why I am here. But it will take a collaborative effort with everyone being committed to that common goal.”

At Fairfield, Cormier built upon his successes at Dartmouth, building the Stags up to a 20-win team by his fifth year in 1995-96 as they won a share of the MAAC regular-season crown. After losing a tough-fought MAAC Tournament championship game, Fairfield was awarded an NIT bid and hosted Providence in the opening round. Injuries plagued the favored Stags the following year, but they got healthy in time for the conference tournament, sweeping the three games to earn the school’s third trip to the NCAA Tournament. Paired up against North Carolina as a 16-seed, Fairfield gave the Tar Heels (who eventually advanced to the Final Four) all they could handle before falling, 82-74.

Cormier made his foray into the NBA in 1998, serving as a scout and assistant video coordinator for the Eastern Conference Champion New York Knicks for one year. Two years later, he joined the Boston Celtics as an assistant coach and head advance scout. After five years with the Celtics, he joined the coaching staff of the Memphis Grizzlies for one year, then was hired by the New Jersey Nets as an advance scout and summer league assistant coach for two years. For the past year, Cormier has been the Eastern advance and collegiate scout for the Golden State Warriors.

The Massachusetts native has never strayed far from his coaching roots. Cormier has served as a skills instructor and lecturer at various basketball camps over the past four years, including Five Star, Nike National Elite and the Orlando NBA pre-draft camp in 2007. And for the past 20 years, he has been the director of the Mid-Cape Hoop School in Cape Cod, Mass.

“Paul Cormier's hiring is an absolute home run for Dartmouth,” said University of Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun. “He has an incredible basketball IQ and there is no person that would fit better for Dartmouth. The game of college basketball is better today because of this hiring, not only for Paul's coaching ability, but because he is a great person as well.”

Prior to his first head-coaching job at Dartmouth, Cormier was an assistant coach at Villanova under Rollie Massimino — his high school coach at Lexington (Mass.) — for four years (1980-84). He was on the bench for the Wildcats’ runs to the Elite Eight in 1981 and ’83 as well as the Sweet Sixteen in 1982. But his lasting legacy at the school comes with his involvement in recruiting the entire squad that went on to win the 1985 NCAA Championship.

Cormier got his start in collegiate coaching as an assistant at Bentley College for two years (1978-80), helping the Falcons attain a national number-one ranking for Division II along the way.

A 1974 graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a degree in health studies, Cormier went on to work as a junior varsity coach at Newmarket (N.H.) High School before taking the head coaching job at Concord (N.H.) High School for three years (1975-78). A standout athlete, Cormier was a four-year letterwinner on both the basketball and baseball teams and was drafted by three different Major League Baseball organizations. He pitched for two years in the Cleveland Indians organization, earning a 5-5 record with a 4.09 ERA in the minors in 22 relief appearances. Cormier returned to UNH to earn his master’s in educational administration and supervision in 1980.

The search for Dartmouth’s men’s basketball coach was directed by Ceplikas and Executive Associate AD Brian Austin in close consultation with President Jim Yong Kim and Acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears. The group also worked closely with an Alumni Advisory Committee chaired by Dave Gavitt ’59, a former head coach at both Dartmouth and Providence. Gavitt also founded and was the commissioner of the Big East Conference, coached the U.S. Olympic team, served as President of USA Basketball and CEO of the Boston Celtics, and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I’m very excited about Paul Cormier’s appointment,” Gavitt commented. “He was very successful in his first stint coaching at Dartmouth, and I believe he brings even more expertise to the job now, given his professional experience.”

Cormier and his wife, Susan, currently reside in Grantham, N.H., and have four sons — Matthew, Jonathan, Christopher and James.