Cal Poly men’s basketball coach Joe Callero is finding out just how much weight the Mustangs’ run to the NCAA Tournament holds among the coaching fraternity.
Making his annual trek to the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention this week, Callero said he’s already been recognized and congratulated more this week than any of his other trips to the convention.
That, in turn, could lead to more meaningful exchanges with other coaches and opportunities to schedule more high-profile games.
Every year, coaches from around the country flock to the Final Four host city to meet, hand out awards, discuss rule proposals and hobnob.
This season, the NABC conference is in Arlington, Texas, where NCAA Tournament Final Four participants Florida will meet Connecticut and Wisconsin will meet Kentucky today in national semifinals at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Callero and two members of his staff are attending, and Callero said this is the best opportunity for him to secure games because he figured around 250 Division I head coaches to be in attendance.
He said he’s already made contact with Notre Dame among others, hoping to schedule something down the line.
“It’s when you can put all the people together,” Callero said.
“You can do some stuff over the phone, but when head coaches talk to head coaches, things get done.”
Cal Poly’s nonconference game with Pittsburgh this season was a direct result of Callero getting to know Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon at a previous conference, and the games being scheduled at the Final Four can earn income for the program.
The Mustangs played four road games against high major opponents this season, and the fees acquired from those appearances netted the program around $200,000 after factoring in travel expenses, Callero said.
A fraction of those earnings are spent in sending Cal Poly personnel back to the NABC conference, where they can network and career build.
For head coaches, it also pays to know assistants who are job hunting in case you need to fill a position. The Mustangs had two assistant coaches leave for other programs last offseason.
“I get to reconnect with assistant coaches that I’ve had,” Callero said. “So, half of it’s just getting to have actual legitimate downtime to visit with professionals that you’re close with.”