It's with the greatest of reverence when I say that Kent State knows what they're doing. And in these situations, they always seem to get it right when hiring a basketball coach. For the last 15 years they've all been successful to the tune of winning at least 19 games a year. And their method has been formulaic: one coach goes out, they bring in their top assistant. See: Jim Christian and Geno Ford. And now Rob Senderoff, and assistant who was named interim coach after Ford went to Bradley, got his "interim" tag thrown into the rubbish. Kent State is his team now.
End of story. Normally.
Because you can't discuss Senderoff as a basketball coach without mentioning the dark cloud known as his time as an assistant under Kelvin Sampson at Indiana. He left Bloomington after being involved in that convoluted calling-recruits scandal and, as a fun side note, Senderoff's replacement on the coaching staff was ex-BG coach Dan Dakich. Senderoff was a Flashes assistant before and after his time at IU, so by virtue of spending six total years at Kent, you can bet they trust him.
In an interview he did a few years ago, Senderoff gave the impression that he took responsibility for what he did, but it wasn't that he orchestrated the violations rather than let them happen. He helped set up phone calls between himself, recruits, and Sampson. I dial the number, you hold the phone. Loopholes! This was a bad thing indeed, but it seems he was branded as the fall guy. He received a 30-month "show cause" penalty, meaning another school can't hire him without approval from the NCAA infractions committee. But that ruling was handed to him when he was already a KSU assistant, so — another loophole! — he can be promoted all the way up to athletic director, I suppose, and they don't have to answer to anyone.
But he has the full support of the school. The players vouched for him, even hinting that they might transfer if someone else got the job. And while the cynical way of looking at it is to say they're "stuck with him," in all honesty it seems like the Kent State athletic department has total faith in him. Stay stuck.
Maybe this is his second chance, or perhaps he already made good on his second opportunity with three years as a KSU assistant. But now he's the head coach, coaching guys like Michael Porrini, who was given a second chance after getting booted off the Western Carolina team. They also cashed in on their second-chance basketball tournament, the NIT, making it all the way to the quarterfinals. Seems like they all have relatable life experience. This might be good.
The scandal at Indiana is never going to go away, either in people's minds or on the refrigerated pixel-based archive known as the Internet. I hope he realizes that. But one of the prevailing narratives in sports that sells remarkably well is atoning for past mistakes. Ask Kobe Bryant and Michael Vick about that. Senderoff has owned up to his, and now he's in a swell position to continue his ascension up the coaching ladder. And the good news for Kent State, a school who can't hold onto their coaches, is even if he wins the NCAA championship next year, no other school can hire Senderoff until after the 2012-13 season without NCAA committee approval.