From proud UConn assistant to scandalized UConn assistant to fired UConn assistant to coaching basketball in China. And now back in America, an assistant at Hofstra. That's been Patrick Sellers' life for the past two years. Sellers was one of the casualties of the fallout with Connecticut basketball, which was nabbed for violations, violations that ultimately didn't deter the team, or the coach, from winning a 2011 national title.
But there was collateral along the way. Sellers (at left in photo, next to Jim Calhoun) happened to be part of it, even if unfairly, as it turned out. Originally Sellers was suspected to have improperly been in contact with agents and been in cahoots with the wrong characters amid the Josh Nochimson/Nate Miles ordeal. But when the NCAA's investigation into the UConn scandal cleared Sellers of any wrongdoing in March, he was free to come back home, to coach and be a part of an NCAA institution again.
I remember standing on the floor during the Huskies' postgame celebration in Houston, the confetti still flaking down on the 150-or-so bodies allowed onto the raised maple. My colleague Jeff Borzello pointed Sellers out to me. I did a double-take. It seemed right, yet wrong, that he was there, quietly watching as a team he helped build celebrated a national title -- a national title team he'd get no public credit over helping assemble. He hovered amongst the tip-toed press corps, occasionally getting an embrace from a player or coach, a quiet acknowledge for what they knew should be happening: he should've been, full-fledged, part of the celebration, the picture-taking, standing on the podium and watching "One Shining Moment" with the rest of the team and coaches.
ESPN.com's Andy Katz caught up with Sellers recently, who has a new start, one he never needed but seems to be grateful for, nonetheless. He explained why he had to leave Connecticut to begin with.
"I told the NCAA that I call agents all the time, I talk to a lot of agents," Sellers said. "It also probably didn't help that the day I was interviewed I had food poisoning like a lot of the players that day. We had just played Michigan and none of us were feeling well that next day. It was something that we all ate. I was a bad witness. I didn't know how to react."So who was going to give the highly touted assisant a gig? Turns out, Hofstra's Mo Cassara had a spot open. Cassara's been a fired assistant himself, as has the rest of his staff. It's part of the business in college basketball. So few assistants constantly ascend the latter. Most are tossed from one tiny town to the next, some leaving the business for years at a time, some burned out by it and never come back.
Sellers said when he went in front of the [Committee on Infractions] last October he told the committee there was a miscommunication from his first interview with the enforcement staff.
"I didn't lie to them," Sellers said. "I wasn't trying to mislead anyone. I was just trying to answer a question. I just told them the truth."
But the 42-year-old Sellers finds himself back on track to becoming a D-I head coach, a goal he'll likely achieve in the next five years. An unexpected, long, windy, over-the-ocean-and-back road puts him where he didn't expect but is all the more appreciative to be.