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Eustachy lands in Hattiesburg

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
March 26, 2004
HATTIESBURG The University of Southern Mississippi made a bold move official on Thursday afternoon.
USM athletic director Richard Giannini introduced Larry Eustachy as the new head coach of the Golden Eagles basketball team in front of a room packed with media members and university supports in the "M" Club Room of the Athletic Center.
Eustachy, a 13-year coaching veteran, left Iowa State last Spring after photos of him drinking with students on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., were published in an Iowa newspaper.
Eustachy admitted he was an alcoholic after the photos surfaced of him at the college party, which led to his resignation from Iowa State.
The new Eagles coach underwent treatment for his substance dependency, enrolling in a 28-day rehabilitation clinic.
Eustachy said on April 23 he will have not had a drink for a year, and the new coach thankfully accepted his new job and second chance at coaching, 10 months after his embarrassing resignation from Iowa State.
Sometimes until you totally bottom out, you don't really see what's going on in your life,'' Eustachy said during a news conference. I hit rock bottom with nobody to blame but myself. You can go one way or another I am a recovering alcoholic and it's constant maintenance, it's constant work. But where I find myself now, I've never felt better.''
Giannini said Eustachy's four-year contract is worth at least $230,000 a year, with a base salary of $130,000 and $100,000 appearance fee. Eustachy can also receive incentives worth up to about $500,000. The terms of his contract are still subject to the approval of the IHL Board.
Eustachy compiled a 260-145 record coaching at Idaho, Utah State and Iowa State. He was named the Associated Press' coach of the year in 2000 and led the Cyclones to Big 12 championships in 2000 and 2001.
Iowa State reached the "Elite Eight" in the NCAA tournament in 2000, Eustachy's second year as the head coach after replacing current New Orleans Hornets coach Tim Floyd.
Eustachy takes over a program that has fallen on hard times after winning a share of the Conference USA regular-season championship in 2001.
The Eagles finished this year with a 13-15 mark, and USM coach James Green resigned the day before the final regular-season game, after eight seasons with the program.
USM has had three straight losing seasons, compiling a 36-48 record during that span. The Eagles have also seen the support for the team dwindle, as the team drew an average of 3,683 fans for 13 home games this season.
Despite the Eagles' recent slide, Eustachy said he believes the elements are in place for USM to become a successful basketball program.
Prior to being introduced as the Eagles new head coach, Eustachy met with the players still on USM roster.
Junior guard David Haywood said the meeting last only about 40-45 minutes, and it was just a chance for the players and coach to get acquainted.
Sophomore guard/forward Jasper Johnson said he was surprised Eustachy was named the new coach at USM.
The Hollandale native said his surprise had nothing to do with Eustachy's past but because of the coaches success at a larger school like Iowa State.
Eustachy, who was an assistant at Mississippi State in the early 1980s, visited Hattiesburg on Tuesday and reached an agreement with Giannini. Contract details were finished Wednesday.