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Paulson pleased with search

Lawrie Paulson, University of Jamestown athletic director

It may have taken a little longer than hoped, but University of Jamestown athletic director Lawrie Paulson believes he found the right guy to lead the men’s basketball program.

Alan Magnani was hired last week as head coach of the Jimmies, replacing Justin Wieck, who resigned May 12 to become the top assistant at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

Magnani becomes the third head coach in the last five years at the University of Jamestown and getting someone to stick around for a while added a degree of difficulty to the situation.

“It was a long process. It was a hard search, maybe it shouldn’t have been, but it was,” said Paulson. “I think the positive takeaway is that we were able to draw an impressive pool of candidates, and in the end we ended up with a very good coach.”

The search took just over a month. The school formed a committee that eventually settled on five finalists — two established veterans, two up-and-comers and one junior college coach, who was a mix of both. The five finalists were two more than originally planned.

After interviews and trips to Jamestown, Magnani was the top choice and took the job. There was obvious mutual interest between the coach and school. Magnani had showed interest in the job when it was open previously.

Current UJ assistant coach Danny Neville was one of the five finalists. The likeable Neville is viewed as a good prospect to become a head coach in the future. Neville ran the program on an interim basis prior to Magnani being hired.

“We talked to some really good people that really wanted the job,” Paulson said. “Ultimately Magnani was our first choice. You can’t argue with his résumé.”

Magnani is the winningest coach in Iowa Wesleyan history, but parted ways with the school in 2011 after he was unwilling to endorse the school’s move from the NAIA level to NCAA Division III.

“You have to respect a guy who’s willing to stand behind his convictions and what he truly believes, and clearly he’s a person who does that,” Paulson said.

Magnani has been a personal basketball instructor recently and also worked at basketball camps. He currently resides in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, but will be back in town this week.

He had the support of two of the past three Jimmie head coaches in Jeff Trumbauer and Matt Murken. Trumbauer praised Magnani in particular after a favored Jimmie team lost to Iowa Wesleyan 72-69 in the 2009-10.

“(Trumbauer) had said we had no business losing to them. We had a good team that year, and they were maybe a little down still, so Jeff had said, ‘this guy can flat-out coach.’”

Magnani clearly had the chops for the job, but another factor in the search was landing a coach that ultimately provides needed stability within the program. Murken and Wieck each left after two seasons.

“As we all know, this is a results-orientated business. We won’t know for sure until the season begins and we so how the kids react to him and how he’s able to recruit and all the factors that go into a coach having success,” Paulson said. “But from where I’m sitting I think he’s going to do a really good job and hopefully it’s a situation where he’s our coach for a long time.”

Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at

Dave Selvig
Selvig has been a sports writer at The Sun since 1999 and sports editor since 2009.
(701) 952-8460