SPOKANE -- The news of Kelly Graves' departure for Oregon caught many by surprise. Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth was not one of them. In fact, GU was able to get the search for a replacement started right away.
Roth spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon at the Stevens Center on Gonzaga's campus. Graves turned the Zags into a national name in women's college basketball. Roth emphasized that it is now a Top-25 program. That, and the personality of their now-departed coach makes this an especially important hire.
"We're gonna be asking someone to fill really big shoes - literally and figuratively," Roth said. "Making sure that whoever that person is is ready for all that. And they will be."
He said as soon as the Oregon job became available he knew the Ducks were going to target the 14-year Bulldog head coach.
Oregon's pursuit of Graves heated up during the Women's Final Four in Nashville. While the Ducks were able to land Graves, Gonzaga was able to make contacts of their own immediately.
GU Associated Athletic Director Heather Gores was in Nashville for the Final Four and was able to start making contacts immediately. Roth declined to name any specific coaches or universities they have reached out to.
After taking the Oregon job, Graves mentioned longtime assistants Jodie Berry and Lisa Fortier as potential successors. Roth acknowledged the university's pattern of hiring from within, but showed no preference in where the new women's basketball coach comes from.
"I prefer nothing, other than I want to get the very best person for this job," Roth said.
Roth also did not give a deadline for the search, only saying he wants to get it done as soon as possible.