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Where are they now?: Jim Satalin

Thursday, January 30, 2003

By Rich Emert

Jim Satalin has not been back on the Duquesne University campus since being dismissed as the Dukes men's basketball coach after the 1988-89 season.

That will change next month. Satalin, who had an 85-120 record in seven years at Duquesne, is in his first season as coordinator of men's basketball officials for the Atlantic 10 Conference. One of the criteria for the job is that he visits each of the conference's schools, and Duquesne is on his itinerary. Satalin had just one winning season during his stint with the Dukes, going 15-14 in 1985-86, but was an excellent bench coach. Satalin, 56, lives in Syracuse, N.Y., with his wife, Kathy, and recently became a grandfather for the first time. He is a national director of the Coaches vs. Cancer programs for the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Q: How did you get involved with Coaches vs. Cancer?

A: A gentleman called me and wanted to know if I could help out with one of the Coaches vs. Cancer programs and took me to lunch. We talked about some things and after lunch he said, 'Would you be interested in a full-time position?' I guess he was impressed with some of the people that I knew through coaching. I was in insurance at the time, which wasn't real exciting, and had been doing some TV commentary for the Empire Sports Network.

Q: What is your job?

A: I help set up programs at the grass roots level and help with national programs. We have the Coaches vs. Cancer games that we play every year and we have a national golf event that has been fairly successful. Next season, we're planning on putting together an exhibition team that will go around and play schools, sort of like that Athletes in Action team used to do. We have a lot of different programs and the whole thing is to help raise funds to fight cancer.

Q: How did you get involved with the Atlantic 10?

A: I had been an officials' observer for the Big East for a number of years. I was interested when the job opened up and the fact that I've coached and had been an observer helped. The two jobs work together well since I talk to a lot of coaches and school officials with the Coaches vs. Cancer programs.

Q: What do you have to do with the officials?

A: I assign the officials to the games, recruit new officials and make sure the officials we do have are doing a good job. I think being a former coach helps me in that I understand what the coaches want from an official and I have a good relationship with them. I realize that coaches have enough to concern themselves about without having to worry who is going to be officiating their game that night. Plus, I think I have a feeling for what type of game a certain matchup might be like and that there might be some officials who would not handle that environment well.

Q: What do you look for in a good official?

A: You want a guy who is competent, but you also want a guy who is going to give a coach a chance to talk to him during a game. Coaches have to understand that the refs don't care who wins or loses. Are officials going to make mistakes? Sure they are. The game is too far advanced for them not to make some mistakes. We look for guys who are going to be consistent.

Q: Do you miss coaching?

A: Not really. I miss the teaching part of it in practice. That's what I really liked, but I don't miss the recruiting and the way you now have to deal with AAU coaches. That's the distasteful part of it to me. Recruiting was never my first love. I always looked at it as a necessary evil of the game.

Q: What do you think about Duquesne's situation?

A: It's not an easy job. It's been tough on everybody who has been there since I left. Time heals all wounds and I have some good memories from when I was there and I still love Pittsburgh. It's a great city and I'm still a Pirates and a Steelers fan and follow what they do.

Q: Four players were involved in the alleged rape case when you were there and were suspended from the team. Two transferred and two others came back, but didn't that situation cut the heart out of the team?

A: It put a stigma on the program and we were shorthanded a couple of seasons because of that. I think we had less of a chance to win because of that. Still, we were there seven years and didn't get it done.

Q: How about the players?

A: I had some good ones. The season after Emmett Sellers came back we had him and Rick Suder, who was as good as anyone, and Collins Dobbs. That was the year we lost to St. Joseph's in the [Atlantic 10] tournament and we were playing well down the stretch.

Q: Is there one game or victory at Duquesne that stands out in your mind?

A: We had some good ones. We beat West Virginia the one year in the [Atlantic 10] tournament and they were the No. 1 seed. I remember that one because it was at Rutgers and all of the Rutgers students were cheering for us because Rutgers played the winner of our game and they felt they would have a much easier time against us. We also played a pretty good game against St. Joseph's in the semifinals the next year and had a shot that would have won the game for us bounce of the rim at the end. That's the thing about coaching, you never enjoy the great wins as much as you think about the bad losses.

Do you have and idea for a Where are they Now? E-mail it to emert196@attbi.com

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