Friday, March 22, 2013

Cassara Out After Three Seasons At Hofstra

After three seasons and circumstances beyond his control, Mo Cassara is regrettably out at Hofstra despite clearly deserving a shot to turn team around.  (Photo courtesy of Newsday)

Another head coaching vacancy now exists, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

Mo Cassara, who spent the last three seasons at Hofstra with teams not picked to go very far, yet turned them into some of the hardest-working and competing groups in New York college basketball, was unceremoniously fired this morning in a decision that comes to those who know him as more than just a surprise.

Assistant coach Patrick Sellers has been named interim head coach, but this is not about that.  Rather, this is about someone who was dealt as rough a hand as you can get when four of his players were arrested for theft in November, yet managed to keep a team of seven players in contention for almost every game the rest of the way, getting a raw deal.

Following Hofstra's final home game, a 57-56 loss to Delaware that I attended, all indications were that Cassara would be back next season.  With a seven-man recruiting class that would help offset the loss of David Imes and Steve Mejia coming to Hempstead, the future seemed bright on the Turnpike, just as it did when Cassara inherited a team loaded with Tom Pecora's recruits in 2010 and took it to a 20-win season.  The latest arrest, this one of UConn transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel for possession of marijuana, may have proved to be the final straw for Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz, no fan of negative publicity, even if his decision to pull the plug on Hofstra football provided some more of that.

Cassara will certainly find a job right away, as his youth, (he turns just 38 this year) infectious personality, positive demeanor and social media savvy (that last part helped differentiate him from most other coaches around these parts) will be gold mines for his future employer(s) to tap into.  He just shouldn't have gone on the market so soon.  The coach deserved better, and deserved the opportunity to lead Hofstra out of the abyss it entered when Tim Welsh, originally tapped to replace Pecora before his drunk driving arrest, sent the program into a tailspin three years ago from which it has yet to recover.

Hofstra had something very good going for them with the charismatic and engaging Cassara.  It just seemed fitting that he would get one more chance at redemption with a program hard-starved for it, but it was not to be.  The Pride will almost certainly be able to attract a big name to Long Island, as Hofstra is one of the better jobs in the area, but whomever they bring in as Cassara's successor has a tall task ahead of him in terms of matching the enthusiasm and fervor with which his predecessor roamed the sideline for three years.  I truly believe that Hofstra will not realize just how good a man they had leading their basketball program until the new season opens in November, regardless of who is introduced in the coming weeks.

However, life is not about how many times you get hit, but rather how well you can sustain each blow and get back up.  Mo Cassara will recover soon enough, even though the only recovery he should be making is finally putting a 7-25 season behind him and looking ahead to next year.  He can still do that, but unfortunately not at Hofstra.

Another man dismissed for the wrong reasons.


  1. This is my response to your excellent post and to another article I read yesterday. I totally agree that Mo Cassara deserved and earned the right to bring this team around. Hathaway and Rabinowitz have no concern for a dedicated professional and his carreer. Would they wish this same fate to their own sons, daughters or family members? I think NOT. I have lost my pride in the Pride. I think that Jeffrey Hathaway is a two faced man. I say this because he is not a man of his word. I have no respect for him because he lies. I think that Hathaway and Stuart Rabinowitz (the president) did not appreciate nor realize what an excellent coach Mo Cassara was for Hofstra. Rabinowitz is not a man of his word either. He is a man who is into himself who reacts without thinking about those around him. It is not all about winning. Isn't that what we try to teach our children? Mo Cassara is a man with moral integrity, character and true dedication and devotion to his job as a head basketball coach. Everyone that meets Mo Cassara senses his charisma. How can one expect a coach to be responsible for every move the players make off the court. He is not a shadow. One can only do and preach so much. Perhaps Hathaway and Rabinowitz should be to blame for the actions of those players. I feel that Hathaway and Rabinowitz only care about themselves. Their decision reflects what really matters to them. And that is that THEY look good and to them- only wins and plaques make them stand out. Well guess what, I am a teacher for 35 years and this is not how I think. The message that they are sending to the Hofstra community and the basketball world is what is wrong with our society. Think about it. People move forward all too often that have lied and cheated their way to the top. They fired a good person who truly cared about the Hofstra community, his staff and his players. He is an excellent coach who did his best with a limited team. He kept the team together and motivated. I witnessed this. I sat behind the bench, and cheered my heart out for the Pride. I am Mo Cassara's neighbor and friend. I have found that true dedication to one's work is not so easy to find these days. Hofstra has lost a dedicated and talented coach. Shame on you Hathaway and Rabinowitz.

  2. Rabinowitz and Hathaway have proven to be men that lack integrity and character. They have lied to the Alumni, sport fans and in this case the former Head Basketball coach at Hofstra, Mo Cassara. I witnessed Hathaway supporting Cassara and saying he had his back. Who knew there was a knife in his hand, et tu Jeffrey. Rabinowitz also pledged support and job security as long as he was president of Hofstra. I guess this was your retirement gesture, don't let the door hit you in the backside Stu. Hathaway you were fired a few years into an eight year contract at UCONN and than demanded a VP title at Hofstra to justify your bloated salary. Stu maybe you have stayed too long, as your latest decision shows your lack of character and how out of touch you really are when it comes to Hofstra and Hofstra sports.

  3. when you recruit players that lack integrity and character, you get what you get. Just as easy to recruit high character kids, but when you go the low road for the one that can dunk in lay up lines......

    1. You must be an idiot. Did you ever stop to think how difficult recruiting is? You have no clue. Do you know where Hofstra is located? It is not easy to find recruits to go to a school that is not a big name. Hofstra is a mid major school in Hempstead Long Island. Think about it buddy. I have seen first hand only part of what goes on in the recruiting process. It is very challenging and exasperating. You need to be educated.

  4. Yeah, 6 players getting arrested in one season is just too much. 6! I do think Mo will be a good coach, but I definitely do not think he was ready for the position when he got it. I think that he personally is a man with great integrity and character, and I do not think that this is about wins and losses, Xs and Os. This is a president looking out for his academic institution, and when there are multiple criminals that were brought onto the campus, unfortunately someone has to take responsibility for it.

  5. to the anonymous idiot. I know the program, I know the school and I know many of the players he receruited. I also know several he should have recruited and he would still probably have his job today. If you think it is difficult to get kids to LI you have no idea what you're writing about.

  6. To the anonymous KNOW IT ALL. If you know so much, perhaps you should apply for the vacancy. You might please Hathaway and Rabinowitz! Good Luck.

  7. I shook Hathaway's hand 2 weeks before he fired Mo and he had nothing but good things to say about him, the job he has done, and the struggles he has been through with his personnel. I agree with you RB, total disgrace to Hofstra athletics. Mo is a great man with a huge heart, who only had the Hofstra community in his best interests. He will move on to bigger and better, rest assured.

    Scott Smith