According to CBS Sports college basketball reporter Jon Rothstein, Rutgers is close to adding a new special assistant to head coach Steve Pikiell’s staff.
Rutgers' Steve Pikiell will hire USMMA (D3) head coach Steve Hayn as special assistant to the head coach, sources told @CBSSports.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) August 15, 2016
While not confirmed, it’s possible that Hayn has been brought in to replace longtime Pikiell assistant Dan Rickard. He was hired by Pikiell for a senior advisor role at Rutgers back in April, but Rickard returned to Stony Brook soon after, becoming the associate head coach of the women’s basketball team. Family was reported as the reason why.
Was told Rickard's move back to Long Island is for family reasons. His wife is associate AD for student athlete development at Stony Brook— Keith Sargeant (@KSargeantNJ) June 15, 2016
Rickard had played for Steve Pikiell at Stony Brook and became a graduate assistant when he finished school in 2004. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach in 2007, so the two had a long working relationship. Whether Hayn was hired to replace Rickard or not, it makes sense that Pikiell’s next hire was someone he has strong ties with.
Hayn has been the head coach of the United States Merchant Marine Academy for the past two seasons, which plays on the Division III level. He has been a head coach at Division II and Division III schools for 15+ years, including stops at Dowling College, Stevens Institute of Technology, and SUNY Fredonia. He has also been an assistant at the Division I level at Central Connecticut State.
That is where the connection between Pikiell and Hayn appears to have begun, as they were both on the same staff of longtime and recently retired head coach Howie Dickenman between 1997-1999. Dickenman was a longtime assistant at UConn during Pikiell’s playing days at the school, as well as the one year run he had as an assistant under hall of fame coach Jim Calhoun.
Ironically, Hayn is actually a Stony Brook graduate and played there from 1989-1991, serving as team captain his senior season. He was an 1,000 point scorer at Stony Brook, which played at the Division III level during his career. It seems Pikiell and Hayn kept in touch over the years since their days at Central Connecticut State, as my colleague at SB Nation’s Mid-Major Madness had this tidbit on their relationship.
Pikiell scheduled USMMA each of the last two years at Stony Brook https://t.co/Hz59jWATA5— Russell Steinberg (@Russ_Steinberg) August 15, 2016
Pikiell has seemingly hit a home run on every hire so far, including arguably the most experienced coaching staff Rutgers has ever had. Pikiell also hired a strong support staff that features former Stony Brook star Bryan Dougher and special assistant Ben Asher, who was a graduate assistant at N.C. State and worked for respected head coach Jimmy Patsos at Siena. Of course, former Rutgers assistant and ace recruiter Greg “Shoes” Vetrone was shifted to a support role as well by Pikiell. For an in depth rundown of the support staff, click here.
Adding a veteran coach with the experience of Hayn, in addition to their decade plus relationship, seems like another savvy move by Pikiell. It gives him another trusted confidant to lean on during the rebuild of Rutgers basketball. Again, nothing has been confirmed as of yet, but as we learned with the hiring’s of the assistant coaches, it took a couple of weeks for the official announcements to occur. The sooner Hayn comes on board the better, with school set to begin in about three weeks.