Princeton Search Continues

Princeton University’s search for a new head coach continues, as athletic director Gary Walters interviewed several more candidates last week, USCHO has learned.

The Princeton position has been open since early March, when Len Quesnelle, part of the program as a player, assistant coach and head coach since 1984, was fired after four years in the top spot.

Added to the list of those interviewed, according to sources, are Middlebury coach Bill Beaney and Massachusetts assistant Bill Gilligan. This adds to the names mentioned last week, including Colgate assistant coach Stan Moore, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold and Dartmouth assistant coach Dave Peters.

Beaney, however, has decided to stop his pursuit of the position, according to a report in Wednesday’s Burlington (Vt.) Free Press. “I couldn’t be happier,” Beaney said to the Free Press about his current job. “I interviewed, and I’m very happy where I am.”

Beaney is a six-time NCAA Division III national championship coach, including this past season. His son Trevor played at Princeton from 1999-2003, prompting Beaney to take one-year hiatus from the Middlebury program to watch his son play his senior season. Beaney has been a top candidate for Ivy League jobs before — Cornell in 1995, Harvard in 1999 — but has always pulled himself out of the process at the last minute.

Walters has declined to comment about the details of the process. “Respectfully, I’ll talk about our search after it is over,” he said.

Moore was named ECAC Coach of the Year for the second time after leading Colgate to a first-place regular-season finish this past season. But his title was just an interim one after Don Vaughan became interim athletic director for one season. Vaughan is back as the team’s head coach for 2004-05. Moore was also Coach of the Year at Union in 1996-97.

Peters entered the college ranks as an assistant coach at Kent State from 1990-93, then spent five years as the top assistant at Providence. After a stint as head coach and general manager of the junior Danville Wings of the NAHL, Peters joined the Dartmouth staff in 1999, where he’s earned the reputation as a top-notch recruiter.

Pecknold is 181-105-28 in 10 season as head coach at Quinnipiac, leading the team’s rise from the Division II ranks. His team earned its first berth to the NCAA tournament in 2002. Pecknold’s interest could be dependent, however, on whether Quinnipiac is accepted into the ECAC.

“If Quinnipiac gets into the ECAC with 18 scholarships, why would he want to leave there for Princeton?” asked one ECAC observer.

ECAC athletic directors are expected to hear formal presentations from a number of interested schools in the coming month. There is still the possibility, as well, the ECAC will leave its makeup at 11 schools, following Vermont’s departure after next season.

Once considered to be a prime candidate, Massachusetts assistant coach Mark Dennehy had not been granted an interview as of last Thursday. Dennehy was an assistant at Princeton under Don Cahoon, during the program’s most successful era in the late ’90s.

After spending one month taking care of his duties as part of the Division I Men’s Baskteball Committee, Walters began the interview process following the Frozen Four. In the three weeks since, Princeton has lost two top-level recruits, including Nick Dodge to Clarkson and Jean-Francois Boucher to Yale. Boucher is the son of one-time Olympic speed skating champion Gaetan Boucher.