Basketball Coach Ben Braun resigns
Ben Braun, the Rice University men’s basketball coach, announced his immediate resignation on Thursday, March 13, marking the end of his six year tenure with the Owls despite having two years remaining on his contract. During his time in Houston, Braun compiled a 63-128 record, which included a record of 12-49 over the past two seasons. Rice finished this season with 18 losses out of 20 games, including a last-second loss to the University of North Texas in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament.
Rice’s basketball program dealt with controversy after six players transferred universities during the 2012 offeason; the Owls last had a winning season in the 2011-2012 campaign after the Owls complied a 19-16 record that saw Rice win two postseason games in the Collegeinsider.com Tournament.
Rice will now look to replace Braun, and hire a coach that will lead the Owls to success. Assistant Coach Louis Reynaud will lead the Owls in the interim, until Rice finds its next head coach.
At a press conference, Director of Athletics Joe Karlgaard said he cannot say for sure when a new head coach will be selected, but that it may take time because the college basketball community is currently focused on the NCAA tournament.
“We want to work quickly, but we also want to find the right person, so if that takes me a couple of weeks then so be it,” Karlgaard said. “The people that I’m looking at now — and I’ve already started to put together a list — some of them will be coaching in the NCAA tournament.”
The Owls have not made it to the NCAA tournament since 1970.
In searching for a new coach, Karlgaard said he wants someone who will understand and adhere to the values of the Rice Athletics program.
“We’re looking for someone first and foremost who has the character, integrity and values that will represent Rice well,” Karlgaard said. “We want someone who can recruit, who can teach and mentor young people, … who understands and embraces all that Rice values as a university, and who can interact with our alumni and our community to push this program forward.”
Karlgaard said during his time at Rice, he has gotten a chance to know Braun and still thinks highly of the exiting coach.
“I think that Ben Braun is a first class individual, and I’m really proud of what he’s done at Rice,” Karlgaard said.
More from The Rice Thresher
On Thursday, sophomore distance runner Grace Forbes proved to the rest of the country what her Conference USA opponents and Rice teammates have known for years – she’s one of the fastest runners in the country. Competing at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. for the second consecutive year, Forbes, took second place in the 10,000-meter, the best finish by an Owl at the NCAAs in over a decade. According to Forbes, who missed the indoor season and the first month of the outdoor season due to extreme fatigue later diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder, the result was a testament to the work she’s put in to overcome an incredibly challenging year.
Five Owls will be heading to next week’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships, after qualifying at the NCAA West Preliminaries which ran May 25 through 28. Headlining the meet for Rice was sophomore distance-runner Grace Forbes, who took first place in the 10,000 meters for the second consecutive year. Forbes will be joined in Eugene, Ore., by sophomore thrower Tara Simpson-Sullivan, junior thrower Erna Gunnarsdottir, senior thrower James McNaney and sophomore vaulter Alex Slinkman. Jon Warren, head coach of the men’s track and field program, said that he was impressed not only by the five qualifiers, but by all 13 Owls who participated over the course of the week in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.