Dino Gaudio has taken over for Skip Prosser before.
More than two decades ago, Gaudio replaced Prosser at a parochial high school in West Virginia and eventually led that team to a state title. On Wednesday, Wake Forest chose Gaudio to again take Prosser's place, this time to replace his late mentor in the cutthroat Atlantic Coast Conference.
"Just like this situation, he left me good players," Gaudio said. "Following him was a terrific tribute. He laid the foundation, set the table and it all worked out, and I hope the same thing happens here."
Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, who signed Gaudio to a five-year contract, praised him for his strength during the two weeks of grieving that followed Prosser's July 26 death from an apparent heart attack.
While making such a long-term commitment to a coach with a career record of 68-124 might appear unusual, Wellman said he never considered hiring an interim coach.
"That is the worst-case scenario for a coach to be in," Wellman said. "What you're saying is that you're a lame duck. And how you coach is after every (game), the players start thinking you're a lame duck. ... That was not an option that I was interested in whatsoever.
"Quite frankly, I expect that to be the first contract (of many) for Dino," he said. He declined to discuss the value of Gaudio's deal, as is the practice at the private school.
The speedy hire also appeared aimed at emphasizing stability and continuity to a recruiting class that's ranked as one of the nation's best. Among the commitments are forward Al-Farouq Aminu of Norcross, Ga. (ranked No. 3 nationally by Scout.com), and center Ty Walker of Wilmington (ranked No. 14 by the service).
"The best way I can say it is, I feel really excited about this year, and I feel really, really, really excited about the next four years," Gaudio said, taking care not to break NCAA rules banning coaches from discussing high school players. "I think that's all I'm allowed to say."
Dave Telep, basketball recruiting editor for Scout.com, said Gaudio's promotion was key for the program to begin healing after Prosser's death.
"From a recruiting perspective, the only move that could unify their present roster and give them the best chance of maintaining their three commitments was to hire somebody from within," he said. "I'm sure it was a difficult decision because that staff is loaded with high-character guys, and I don't think anybody on that staff thought of themselves as above another guy."
Wellman outlined his search plans during a meeting with current staff members last Friday, the day before Prosser's burial in Cincinnati.
"My priority was to secure a basketball coach that would do the things that they had laid the foundation for," Wellman said.
Story Courtesy: CBS.sportsline.com & AP Wire Reports