Mainieri may be next LSU coach

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Notre Dame baseball coach Paul Mainieri will interview for the coaching vacancy at LSU on Wednesday.

Mainieri, who played one season at LSU, has compiled a 533-213-3 record in 12 years as Notre Dame coach.

“I’m not leaning one way or the other,” he told the South Bend Tribune for a Monday story. “I’ve known (LSU athletic director) Skip Bertman for a long time.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Bertman coached the Tigers to five national titles before becoming athletic director in 2001. The coaching job opened when Smoke Laval resigned after the LSU failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years.

“I have turned down more overtures than anyone would suspect,” Mainieri said. “But this one intrigues me a little. I met my wife (Karen) there. Most people would consider LSU one of the top three to five coaching jobs in the nation.”

Notre Dame was 45-16-1 and won its fifth straight Big East championship last season.

“Bertman called me a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to know if I was interested,” Mainieri said. “I told him to look around at some other candidates, then I kind of forgot about it. I thought it was a dead issue. Then he called back Friday and we set up a face-to-face meeting.

“If it’s not right, I’ll get back on a plane to South Bend. In my 12 years at Notre Dame, I have never applied for another job. It is important for people to know that I never looked to leave Notre Dame,” he said.

Mainieri also coached for six seasons at St. Thomas University in Florida before taking the Air Force job in 1989. He moved to Notre Dame in 1995, and his oldest son, Nick, was a student assistant coach for the Irish last season. His younger son, Thomas, was born two days before Mainieri took the Notre Dame job and is a batboy for the Irish.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White confirmed through a spokesman Saturday that Bertman was granted permission to speak to Mainieri. The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge reported that an interview was expected to take place Monday.

Former University of New Orleans coach Ron Maestri confirmed for the newspaper that Mainieri and Bertman spoke two weeks ago about the LSU job after the Fighting Irish season ended with a loss to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

“Paul and Skip know each other and Skip has known the family for years,” Maestri said.

Mainieri played for Maestri at UNO for two seasons in the late 1970s after spending a season each at LSU and Miami-Dade Community College.