Sport

Keith Urgo gets an ‘amazing’ opportunity as Fordham’s new basketball coach

Keith Urgo’s first guess was wrong, as was his second.

Kyle Neptune had just broken him this amazing news: Neptune had signed a contract with Villanova, and the then-Fordham head coach’s first instinct was that the Rams had secured a major non-conference game.

“What, play in the garden next year?” Urgo remembered. “He started laughing and said, ‘No, to be their next head coach.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, OK, it’s April 1st.’”

Narrator: It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.

That’s when Urgo realized how much his life would change. He just didn’t know what direction to take at the time that a week later he would be his first head coach at the Bronx school his father attended after serving as a Division I assistant for 16 years in Villanova, Penn State and Fordham.

“It’s indescribable,” Urgo, 42, told the Post ahead of his Friday press conference that officially announced the hiring. “My father has been crying for a few days since we heard the good news. My father is from Brooklyn. My mother is from Brooklyn. We grew up around Fordham, the Fordham Rams and Fordham alumni and the pride they all have in this place.”

Urgo beat out a number of qualified candidates, including Vermont coach John Becker, Kentucky associate head coach Bruiser Flint, Providence assistant Ivan Thomas, Rutgers associate head coach Brandin Knight and Connecticut assistant Kimani Young.

Urgo received overwhelming support for the job after serving as Neptune’s right hand man during their year together. That season, Fordham surpassed expectations with a 16-16 record, a 14-win improvement from the previous winter, and reached the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament for the first time since 2007, according to director Eddie Kull and other members of the athletic department.

By retaining Urgo, Fordham ensured his strong three-man recruit class remained intact, a group led by three-star prospects Will Richardson and Angel Montas and the entire coaching staff. It meant there wouldn’t be a mass exodus — that the Rams wouldn’t start all over again.

Kyle Neptune
Urgo will take the reins as Kyle Neptune’s successor.
Getty Images

But that didn’t lead to Kull’s decision, he stressed. It’s not like Fordham is coming off an NCAA tournament run or bringing back a team that’s ranked preseason.

“I love that our fanbase is looking forward to the year, but 16 wins is .500. We want more,” said Kull. “I want to put that into perspective. We strive to be better.”

No, Urgo got the job on his own merit, on his vast experience and skills as a coach. In his one year at Fordham, Urgo lived up to his upfront pay as a top-notch recruiter and outstanding coach.

When the Rams set up the coaching staff after Neptune was hired, Kull envisioned losing Neptune one day, he thought so much of him. He one day saw Urgo as a strong replacement, someone Fordham was only able to hire because it was now putting more money into the program.

“As we continued to talk to the candidates, their vision and their ideas, it kept coming back to Keith,” Kull said. “I wanted someone who wanted Fordham. Not someone who wanted to use us as a stepping stone. Not someone looking to jump into the Atlantic 10. Not someone who just wanted a raise. Not someone I had to overpay to bring her here.”

“That was always the plan,” added the sporting director. “I just thought it would be in four years.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/29/keith-urgo-getting-indescribable-chance-as-fordhams-new-basketball-coach/ Keith Urgo gets an ‘amazing’ opportunity as Fordham’s new basketball coach

JOE HERNANDEZ

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