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Tonelli leaves USF to return to Wharton



USF director of basketball operations Tommy Tonelli, the former Bulls player and assistant who was passed over for two openings on Stan Heath's staff this summer, has stepped down to return to coach at Wharton High School.

"I really appreciate the opportunity Stan gave me to be back at USF," Tonelli said in a statement. "I enjoyed it and it was a learning experience. The opportunity came about for me to go back to Wharton and I just felt like it was an opportunity for me, the sake of my family and professionally, that I couldn't pass up."

Tonelli returns to a Wharton program that went 213-73 during his 10 years as head coach before he returned to USF in 2007. The Wildcats won three district titles and made six playoff appearances under Tonelli, including three Sweet 16s and one region final.

"I feel fortunate over the last two years to have Tommy Tonelli as part of our program," Heath said in a statement. "His relationship to USF goes way back, and he has been a vital part of our coaching staff as well as the future success of our program. I wish him nothing but the best."

Tonelli has been a part of six of USF's nine postseason basketball teams as a player or coach -- he was a three-year starter as a guard from 1982-86, and was on the coaching staff from 1986-96, the final five seasons as a full-time assistant.

Tonelli's departure means that three of Heath's four top assistants will be in their first year with the Bulls. Heath hired Jeremy Cox and Eric Skeeters as full-time assistants to replace Dan Hipsher and Byron Samuels; Reggie Hanson is the lone returning assistant from last season.

Here's the full story from USF's official site.

Heath should get plenty of applicants for the position and a chance to get on a Big East staff, but we'll go back to what we wrote here in June, saying that Andy Hipsher, Dan's son and a former director of operations under Bobby Knight at Texas Tech, could be a match for the opening.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:55pm]


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