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Colleges: Kiraly one to covet

June 29, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
(Don Leach | Daily…)

There comes a point with former athletes when the legacy they created during their playing career virtually trumps any resume they may have developed after that career has ended.

Karch Kiraly, the Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and/or Wayne Gretzky of men's volleyball, is such a figure.

Kiraly, whose relatively modest coaching experience has been limited to an assistant's role, which he currently holds with the U.S. women's national team, does not rival some of the sideline accomplishments presented by others pursuing the UC Irvine men's volleyball coaching vacancy that was created when John Speraw left for UCLA.

But few would argue that Kiraly's place atop the pantheon of not only his sport, but the virtual entirety of Olympic sports as well, would make him an attractive hire whose cache among prospective recruits and UCI returners alike would seem to promote continued success for a program that has won three NCAA titles in the last six years, including 2012.

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Kiraly was hired in April of 2009 by U.S. women's coach Hugh McCutcheon, who with Speraw among his assistant coaches, piloted the American men's team to an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008.

Kiraly's bio on the USA Volleyball website fortifies the praise he regularly receives for his knowledge of the game and his ability to lead.

"I have a hunger to grow and to learn, so coaching is a natural extension of a lifelong love of the game of volleyball," Kiraly says in the five-page bio that chronicles his unprecedented playing success both indoors and on the beach. "The United States has a superb cadre of coaches, some of the best minds of volleyball ever, and I aspire to join that group."

Kiraly, who is joined on the Team USA bench by fellow assistant and volleyball legend Paula Weishoff, the UCI women's coach, has helped the U.S. women earn the No. 1 world ranking. They won a sliver medal in Beijing and are looking to go one better in London.

By multiple accounts, Kiraly appears to be the leading candidate to succeed Speraw. What remains unclear is whether the 48-year-old San Clemente resident is as interested in the UCI job as Anteater administrators are interested in bringing him on board.

The interview process is ongoing at UCI, where former assistant Dave Kniffin and current assistant Mark Presho are still viable candidates.

USC assistant Jeff Nygaard, who like Kiraly played collegiately at UCLA, is among the names still generating speculation.

A decision is not expected until late next week at the earliest.

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