USF Bulls men's basketball coach Stan Heath has found an experienced former head coach to fill out his coaching staff, announcing Friday the hiring of Steve Roccaforte, who spent the past five years as head coach at Lamar University in Texas.
Roccaforte, 46, has also worked as an assistant at Wyoming and Memphis, and will take the place of two-year assistant Jeremy Cox, who left the Bulls last month to take a job on the staff at Nebraska. He went 76-78 in five seasons at Lamar, including a 13-17 record in his final season.
"Rock is a terrific addition to our staff," Heath said in a statement. "His track record as a coach, recruiter and worker is at a high level. I fully expect Steve to hit the ground running in all areas on our Bulls staff."
This story in today's Port Arthur News in Texas suggests that Kentucky coach John Calipari, who worked with Roccaforte at Memphis, may have put in a good word for him for the USF job, as he has no direct ties to Heath. The story said Roccaforte was known as a top recruiter before coming to Lamar, having helped Memphis land Celtics and Thunder star Kendrick Perkins, who ended up going straight to the NBA.
In other USF news:
-- The long-awaited renovation of the Sun Dome could begin next week, as USF's board of trustees will vote Wednesday to approve a new financing plan that will pay for the entire $35 million project using existing cash reserves.
The project had been conditionally approved by the state's Board of Governors in March, but that plan called for $26.5 million in loans and required the USF Foundation to set aside $20 million to guarantee the revenues budgeted for the upgraded arena. The new plan is expected to be approved Wednesday, and construction can begin immediately from there.
The delays in starting the project make it now unlikely that the Bulls will play any 2011-12 home games in the new arena, as USF executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis said Thursday night that USF will start with all of its games booked at the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown Tampa, with the hope of moving some games back on campus when construction is complete. The proposal submitted to the board of trustees has construction slated to be finished in May 2012, nearly two months after the regular season ends.