PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jim Ferry, who led Long Island University to consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament, is the new head men's basketball coach at Duquesne.
Ferry, 44, replaces Ron Everhart, who was fired last month after six seasons at the Atlantic-10 school. According to a source close to the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because terms were not released, Ferry agreed to a seven-year deal with an annual base of $600,000.
Ferry, a native of Elmont, N.Y., spent 10 seasons with the Blackbirds, and won the Northeast Conference Tournament title the past two seasons. In the last four years at the Brooklyn, N.Y., school, Ferry was 55-17. LIU had a couple of tough draws in the NCAA, losing, 89-67, to Michigan State this year, and dropping a 102-87 decision to North Carolina in 2011.
"Jim Ferry has been a winner at every level," Duquesne athletic director Greg Amodio said. "Through a combination of hard work, strong character and outstanding leadership, he experienced unprecedented success at LIU. I look forward to him using those same qualities to make his mark on the Duquesne basketball program. He is an aggressive recruiter whose teams are known for tough, physical play.
"Jim is the right fit for Duquesne right now."
Everhart spent six seasons with the Dukes, went 99-89, and took the embattled program to postseason play three times. But questions began to surface last month, when three members of the team - including sophomore point guard T.J. McConnell, the team's best overall player - announced intentions to transfer.
Everhart's best season came in 2008-09, when the Dukes advanced to the Atlantic 10 tournament title game, before falling to Temple. They landed in the NIT that season, losing to Virginia Tech, and would go on to make a postseason tournament the next two years.
Duquesne finished 16-15 this season, and lost to UMass in the first round of the conference tournament.
Everhart was a Division I coach for 18 seasons, and received serious interest from Penn State last June, before withdrawing his name from consideration. The Dukes finished .500 or better in his last five seasons on the bench.
But McConnell's decision stunned the school. A Pittsburgh native who committed to Duquesne early in his high school career, McConnell averaged 34.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 9.1 assists while at Chartiers Valley High and was viewed as the key piece to continuing Duquesne's ascension in the conference.
As a freshman with the Dukes, he was as advertised. He started 30 games, averaging 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.8 steals. He was named 2011 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, as a result.
But McConnell, like most of the team, struggled at key times this season. He finished third on the team in scoring, at 11.4 points per game, and without a strong rebounding presence down low, the Dukes finished 7-9 in league play. Senior guard B.J. Monteiro led the team in rebounding at just 5.4 per game. That ranked 27th individually in the Atlantic 10.
In addition to McConnell, sophomore guard Mike Talley and freshman forward Danny Herrera also were granted releases from the team.
McConnell this week decided to transfer to Arizona, a team that defeated Duquesne, 67-59, this season.
Ferry is another in a long line of coaches to exit the NEC, traditionally known as a steppingstone conference, for a larger league. Last month, Wagner lost Dan Hurley to Rhode Island, like Duquesne, an A-10 school. And two years ago, Robert Morris lost Mike Rice to Rutgers of the Big East.
LIU, in response, acted quickly, promoting assistant Jack Perri, 36, to Ferry's old position. Perri, 36, has spent seven years in the Blackbirds program.
Ferry was 150-149 with LIU, after inheriting a team that went 5-22 the season before he arrived.
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to coach at Duquesne," Ferry said. "I look forward to the challenge of taking this program to the next level."
Duquesne last made the NCAA tournament in 1977.