M bball: Saluki assistant passed over for SIUE job

By Gus Bode

Lennox Forrester – and not Saluki assistant coach Rodney Watson – was announced Monday as the next head coach of the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars’ basketball team.

Watson, an assistant coach at SIU for 19 years, was one of three finalists for the position. The other two finalists were Forrester, an assistant coach with the Bradley Braves the past five years, and Western Michigan assistant coach Jeff Dunlap.

Saluki Athletic Director Mario Moccia said previously it would hurt the SIU men’s basketball team to lose Watson.


“If it was something Rodney wanted, I wanted it for him,” Moccia said Tuesday.

SIU is 399-205 with Watson on the coaching staff, amassing nine NCAA Tournament berths and 16 seasons with a winning record in 19 years. In that time, the Salukis have twice made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and advanced past the first round three times.

SIU has also won four Missouri Valley Conference Tournaments and eight regular season MVC titles.

“I’m happy for us that we were able to keep Rodney,” Moccia said. “I think he’s a huge reason of our success over the last six years and beyond.”

Watson interviewed for the head coaching position at SIUE April 4, and Moccia said Cougars Athletic Director Brad Hewitt contacted him requesting to interview Watson. Moccia said no other schools have contacted him seeking permission to interview Watson or any other Saluki assistant coaches.

Watson and SIU coach Chris Lowery did not return calls for comment.

Hewitt said in a written statement he was confident in Forrester’s ability to be a successful head coach.


The SIUE Cougars are in the Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference and is currently in the process of moving up to Division I athletics.

SIUE will play in its current conference for the 2007-08 season and pursue another conference for the following year.