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NU fires Bill Carmody; Chris Collins considered a top candidate

Northwestern coach Bill Carmody watches his team play Iowduring first half an NCAA college basketball game EvanstIll. Thursday Feb. 17

Northwestern coach Bill Carmody watches his team play Iowa during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., on Thursday Feb. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

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WHO’S got next?

Possible candidates to replace Bill Carmody:

Chris Collins: Duke assistant has Chicago ties.

Bryce Drew: Valpo coach part of coaching family.

Dave PaulsEn: Bucknell boss has won 78 games in three years.

Billy Donlon: Wright State coach’s dad was ex-NU assistant.

Keith Dambrot: Akron coach won back-to-back MAC titles.

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Updated: April 18, 2013 7:06AM

Like his predecessors, Bill Carmody came to Northwestern with the goal of leading the Wildcats to their first NCAA tournament.

Thirteen years later, he leaves as the most successful coach in school history, despite failing to accomplish his primary objective.

Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips announced Saturday that Carmody would not return for the final year of his contract after a 13-19 season that was largely the product of an academic suspension and season-ending injuries to two key players.

Carmody leaves Northwestern with a 192-210 record, the only two 20-win seasons in school history and a school-record four consecutive NIT appearances.

“In the end it wasn’t just about this particular season,” Phillips said. “It was the entire 13 years.”

Phillips will use the same search firm that helped fill recent vacancies at Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. He said that there is no predetermined time frame for finding a replacement and that candidates must understand Northwestern, be committed to graduating players and ‘‘enjoy recruiting and embrace it.”

“Two or three times I thought he had teams that were going to get to the NCAA tournament, and then the injuries just mounted up, and this year’s was almost ... it was incredible,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I feel bad. I hope he stays in coaching because he is a hell of a coach.”

“Bill Carmody maybe has the best offensive mind of any coach I’ve ever seen in my life,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.

Phillips is sure to seriously consider a recommendation from his mentor, Duke athletic director Kevin White, making Chris Collins a leading candidate. The longtime Duke assistant starred at Glenbrook North before playing for the Blue Devils. He is the son of former Bulls coach and current 76ers coach Doug Collins.

Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew, Harvard’s Tommy Amaker and Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen are also possibilities. So is Wright State’s Billy Donlon, another former Glenbrook North star whose father was a Northwestern assistant from 1987 to ’94.

Northwestern President Morty Schapiro was president of Williams College when Paulsen led the Ephs to the Division III national championship in 2003.

“I won’t show up Monday with a coach,” Phillips said. “We’ll take our time and make sure we get it right.”

The father of Northwestern’s top recruit, Jaren Sina, said his son was unlikely to honor his commitment to the Wildcats if Carmody was fired. Seton Hall reportedly still is pursuing Sina, a point guard from Gill St. Bernard’s in Gladstone, N.J.

Phillips said he planned to speak with Sina and Pekin forward Nathan Taphorn later Saturday night. He said he met with current players Saturday and plans to meet Sunday with senior forward Drew Crawford, who could transfer as a graduate student without losing a year of eligibility.

“I hope he’ll be a catalyst for keeping this group together,” Phillips said. “I think the world of Drew and his family but in the end I will support whatever’s best for Drew. I hope that’s remaining at Northwestern, but that’s something for he and his family to decide.”

Northwestern has the worst basketball facilities in the Big Ten, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. The university plans to build a $220 million athletic complex that doesn’t include renovations for Welsh-Ryan Arena or improvements to the practice facility, which could make it more difficult to lure a top coaching candidate.

“I know a lot of has been talked about the facilities,” Phillips said. “What we fail to realize is all the other things Northwestern has to offer. The facilities certainly are important but when you talk about the degree, you talk about the experience the kids can have, you talk about the conference, talk about being in Chicago, those things are important, too.”

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