HELENA — The Frontier Conference coaching carousel might not yet be finished.
One day after the MTN Sports team broke the news that Montana Western head coach Steve Keller was set to take the same role at the University of Providence, new reports have surfaced that Carroll College’s Carson Cunningham is a leading candidate for the vacant position at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman posted to his Twitter account Wednesday, “Incarnate Word expected to hire Dr. Carson Cunningham from Carroll College MT (NAIA).” Goodman went on to say that current UIW assistant coach John Smith is expected to remain on the staff, which would likely boost recruiting in the state of Texas.
Incarnate Word expected to hire Dr. Carson Cunningham from Carroll College MT (NAIA), former Purdue PG for Gene Keady, as their next head coach, sources told ESPN. Hearing asst John Smith is being retained, good move for Texas recruiting ties and stability.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 21, 2018
When asked for a comment, Dr. Cunningham simply replied, “I am a candidate.” Further questions were not immediately answered by Cunningham.
Goodman’s Twitter post comes two days after the account @CoachingChanges tweeted that Dr. Cunningham was a leading candidate for the Cardinals’ head coaching position. Former Carroll College president Dr. Tom Evans holds the same position at UIW, and the familiarity could be a factor in the potential hire.
In five years at Carroll College, Cunningham turned the Fighting Saints into a perennial power in the Frontier Conference and NAIA. After taking over a team that had won just two games the year before his arrival, Cunningham led the Saints to three of the best seasons in program history. The Fighting Saints won 80 games in the past three seasons, capturing two Frontier Conference championships and Frontier Conference tournament championships, and advancing to the NAIA national tournament all three years. Carroll advanced to the national quarterfinals in 2016 and 2017, before falling in the second round last week in Kansas City.
Cunningham mentored consecutive conference players of the year — Zach Taylor last season and Ryan Imhoff this winter — while Imhoff was named the NAIA men’s Division I player of the year on Tuesday evening. Each was recognized as an all-American under Cunningham’s tutelage.
On March 6, Incarnate Word announced Ken Burmeister would not return as head coach of the Cardinals after the program finished 7-21 overall and a dismal 2-16 in the Southland Conference.