By Scott Cole / March / April 1999
November 14th, 2007
It's time for someone else to take a shot at making Brown a consistent winner in men's basketball. Frank "Happy'' Dobbs is the latest to try but fail. Dobbs, head coach for eight years, resigned February 16; his resignation became effective at the end of the season, which concluded with home games against Harvard and Dartmouth on February 26 and 27. "It was a difficult decision," said the thirty-six-year-old Dobbs, "but one I thought was best for everyone involved." Brown, 4-20 overall, entered that final weekend tied with Yale for last place in the Ivy League at 2-10. Dobbs's career log heading into that weekend was 34-76 in the Ivy League and 67-139 overall. His best season was 1994-95, when the Bears finished 13-13 overall and 8-6 (fourth) in the Ivy League, but his final three years were particularly difficult: a combined 8-32 in the Ivy League and 14-62 overall.

Making Brown a contender in men's basketball has proven to be one of the school's most difficult challenges. The University has had a mere nineteen winning seasons in ninety-three years of the sport, including only four in the past thirty years and none since 1986, when the Bears, under Mike Cingiser '62, won their lone Ivy League title. Yet Athletic Director Dave Roach insists that Brown should be able to do better. "There are 310 schools that play Division I basketball," he says. "The question some might have is whether there are enough talented players out there who can cut it academically. I guess part of the answer is, if Penn and Princeton can do it consistently, and Dartmouth and Harvard have done a nice job in recent years, then so can we."

Dobbs believes a major reason other schools have been more successful had been their ability to offer more attractive financial aid to recruits. "It's always been about financial aid," he says. '"It always comes down to dollars and cents. With the way tuition all over the country has risen, especially at Ivy League schools, it's been tougher and tougher to recruit." The University's new financial-aid plan, announced in late February (see page 14), should improve the outlook. "This helps us get a better caliber of athlete," said Roach. "Our new package makes us more competitive with everyone in the Ivies."

But the change comes too late to help Dobbs. "If you change the financial-aid structure to be able to compete with the other schools, anyone in this chair will have more success," he said, "because everything else is in place here."

In searching for a new coach, Roach said he will look for someone who "knows the X's and O's, can recruit, and has the intangibles - someone who leaves me with the feeling kids will want to play for this person."

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March / April 1999