UB Athletics introduced George Halcovage III as its new men’s basketball head coach Monday afternoon.
Halcovage coached at Villanova for 15 years, and accepted the UB job — his first head coaching position — on Thursday, March 30.
The intro presser took place on the floor of Alumni Arena, where Halcovage took the podium to embrace UB Athletic Director Mark Alnutt and address local media and UB basketball fans.
After the press conference, Halcovage spoke with local media about his experience in college basketball and the landscape of the sport. He specifically mentioned the transfer portal and name, image, likeness (NIL) deals as new factors for today’s head coaches to grapple with.
In recent years, the transfer portal has changed college sports and made rosters much more volatile — players are now switching schools multiple times during their four-year careers. In the 2022-23 season, schools like Miami and Texas utilized the transfer portal to fuel deep NCAA Tournament runs. Halcovage said he’s prepared to capitalize on the portal.
“It’s a new age, for everybody,” Halcovage said. “It’s a new process of recruiting, where after every season… you’ve got to evaluate what your roster’s going to look like. You’ve got to be open to bringing in people who want to transfer in.”
Halcovage acknowledged that he spoke with the six UB players in the transfer portal, but said he wanted to keep those conversations “in-house.”
He said that the portal, and other changes like NIL, has allowed college basketball to reach an unprecedented level of parity and competition. He spoke about this year’s March Madness Tournament, which featured a Final Four with no top-three seeds.
Halcovage also sees opportunities for NIL sponsorships to benefit the UB Athletics.
“I think Buffalo’s infrastructure is set up to be able to do that at a high level,” he said. “And that’s a great thing for these [athletes] to make money on their name, image and likeness. It’s been a long time coming, and you’ve got to embrace it.”
But that optimism comes with a caveat: Halcovage also said he had no plans to make the “whole program about NIL.”
Halcovage said his main focus is on bringing UB back to its place at the top of the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The Bulls last won the conference in 2019 under head coach Nate Oats, who then departed for Alabama that year.
Halcovage knows that UB became one of the prominent programs in the conference over the past decade, and he wants the program to regain its MAC dominance.
“There’s going to be pressure right away to put a basketball team on the floor that competes to win championships in the MAC, and then has an opportunity to make the NCAA Tournament,” Halcovage said.
Halcovage said the play style and coaching philosophy of his team will depend on the players UB brings in, saying that his staff has to be open to adjust based on personnel. He said he’s looking for players who are “skilled, tough and want to be a part of something bigger.”
The Pottsville, Pennsylvania native spent a decade-and-a-half with a Villanova team that possessed a winning culture and established itself as a national powerhouse in college basketball. He played a large role in that success, not only by recruiting and training players, but by — as Alnutt said —“architecting” the program.
Part of his role at Villanova as associate head coach included scheduling responsibilities. Halcovage said he is focused on getting big-time road games for UB to boost the team’s national profile and ranking.
“I would like to utilize some connections [to] get us in some creative things to help us brand up a level,” Halcovage said. “Take us anywhere… to Hawaii… to Europe… It doesn't matter for us. We’re going to work every day to be the best team we can by the end of the year.”
Ryan Tantalo is the Senior Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org