Georgia State coach Ron Hunter was finally cleared to talk to reporters (that’s a joke, kind of) after having hip replacement surgery on April 6.
A few things happened while he was recuperating, notably the Panthers joined the Sun Belt Conference. They will begin play in 2013, giving Hunter one more year in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Hunter, usually funny, always confident and brutally honest, offered his thoughts on the move, negative recruiting tactics, last year’s team, and the one player that he forgot to tell about the pending conference change. Here’s Part II. Part I was posted yesterday. (Questions and answers have been paraphrased)
First, Georgia State softball team scored the biggest win in athletics department history when it defeated No. 2 Alabama 5-1 last night. That’s the highest-ranked team any GSU squad has ever beaten in any sport. Kaitlyn Medlam tossed 3 1/3 innings of no-hit relief and Callie Alford drove in two runs for the Panthers.
Whitney Phillips tied the game with a bases-loaded, run-scoring single in the fifth inning. The go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch. Lauren Coleman followed with a bases-loaded walk. Alford hit her two-run single.
Previously, Georgia State’s baseball team held the mark for the highest-ranked team beaten with its victory at No. 3 Georgia Tech in 2009.
On to the Hunter question and answer:
Q: Are any of the recruits or signees asking you about the Sun Belt move?
A: All of them. I had an AAU coach call my son and ask if he wants to play in the Sun Belt. He’s the only player I didn’t talk with about the move. He’s fine with it. Every one of our recruits, we signed these guys based upon us being in the CAA. Would these guys have signed with us if they knew we were in the Sun Belt? I don’t know.
Q: It sounds like a negative difference.
A: I wouldn’t say a negative difference, but a difference.
Q: Any more negative recruiting?
A: Three coaches…I’m sick and tired of college coaches negatively recruiting against me. I’ve called them and said if you negatively recruit against me, I serve on enough committees, I’m going to cause you problems. Take shots at my program, I’m going to take shots back. I don’t negatively recruit.
Q: What kind of problems?
I can do negative recruiting. I can call the NCAA and say you may want to look into so and so.
When I recruit against other schools I don’t say GSU is better than so-and-so. I say this is why you want to be at Georgia State
I called that AAU coach.
We had a talk. Well, I don’t know if it was a talk.
Q: Have you lost any recruits because of the Sun Belt?
A: I lost a potential recruit because of the Sun Belt. But that kid wanted to come here for the wrong reasons.
Q: What are your thoughts about the move?
A: If I’m the President or AD, I think it’s a great move. Sometimes in life decisions are made that aren’t good for individuals but are good for the family. When I made the decision to come to Georgia State I left my family behind for a while. It wasn’t good for them or me, but it will be good for the family.
That’s how I feel about Georgia State. It might not be best decision for all the sports, but it’s good for Georgia State.
Q: Will the Sun Belt be good for basketball?
Q: It’s yet to be seen because of what’s going to happen in the league. Will the CAA be the same in three years? I doubt it. The same is true for the Sun Belt.
As long as the Sun Belt has an automatic bid … the CAA has one, the Sun Belt has one. I think the conference thing is overrated. There are great coaches in the CAA. It’s a great league, great basketball league. We were on our way to be a part of it.
Q: Do you like the move? Until recently the CAA was mostly a one-bid league.
A: In the long run I think it will be good for us.
The CAA has had some great success of late. A lot has to do with what VCU and George Mason.
I loved coaching the CAA. Once of the reasons I came to Georgia State was to coach in the CAA. There are great coaches.
Now my excitement has changed because we are getting ready to take a young, talented team to a place where we aren’t sure about it. I love the unknown. Our conference will change but my excitement level hasn’t changed.
I will say I will be very disappointed if we can’t play in the conference tournament, disappointed for my kids and as a father. If you take that away from a kid for one year, it’s devastating.
Q: Will that take pressure of the team, knowing that they can’t play in a conference tournament?
A: No. conference tournaments, you can’t duplicate conference tournaments. They are one of the greatest things we do in college basketball. If that’s got to be the price, it’s tough price for the kids.
Student-athlete welfare, how can a president look at a student-athlete and penalize them for a decision that the institution made?
If we can’t play in the tournament, I don’t want to play in the conference all year. These kids have four. years. My son will have four years. T.J. will have four years. Those guys lose that opportunity.
Q: Have any of the upperclassmen asked about transferring if it’s ruled that yall can’t play in a conference tournament?
A: No, no transfers. The kids are happy here.
Q: What are the Sun Belt’s strengths?
A: I don’t know a lot about it, but I didn’t know a lot about the CAA or Georgia State. R.J. knows a kid [Courtney Lee] who is from Indianapolis and went to Pike, just like he did. That kid went to Western Kentucky, which is in the Sun Belt, and went to the NBA.
Q: When do you start doing research on the Sun Belt?
A: I was putting the schedule together and I’ve told our kids that we are still in the CAA for one year. Let’s worry about what’s in front of us.
Let’s go out with a bang. I’m sure the CAA doesn’t want GSU to win the CAA. I love making people’s lives miserable. Let’s make people’s lives miserable.
Q: Is the schedule set? Any games you can talk about?
A: It’s 90 percent set right now. We should be able to release it within the next week.
Q: Any big games? Any teases?
A: No. We made a few changes. I need to get the contracts in hand.
Q: Did R.J. waver after the Sun Belt news?
A: No. If he did, I’d just tell his mother [laughs]. The kids all want to be here. I want to recruit players that want to be at Georgia State.
– Doug Roberson, AJC