Oklahoma City Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder opened the second phase of his search for the Cowboys' next basketball coach Friday after Bill Self decided to stay with national champion Kansas instead of returning to his alma mater.
Holder said he put forth his best effort to lure Self back to Stillwater, and now will look for another candidate who fits a similar mold.
"I think he's a leader of men as well as a basketball coach. I'm looking for somebody like that," Holder said Friday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Holder said he appreciated the opportunity to interview Self and felt "he was more impressive than I thought he would be." In his first high-profile coaching search since taking over as athletic director, Holder said he felt he owed it to Self and to Oklahoma State fans to pursue the former Cowboys player and assistant.
"He's really the only OSU graduate in the coaching profession that's achieved at his level," Holder said.
The two met for about two hours Wednesday night near Kansas City, Mo., but Self instead agreed to a contract extension to remain with the Jayhawks.
"I couldn't overcome what he's got there at Kansas," Holder said. "The lure of coming home wasn't strong enough."
Holder picked Self's brain for other candidates he'd recommend to succeed Sean Sutton, who resigned last week, and he hoped Self would carry through on a promise to provide him several names. He also has been consulting others familiar with Oklahoma State's basketball program to find the right fit to continue the school's basketball tradition.
While it's easy to look at coaching records, Holder said he's looking for the right personal qualities.
"I'm getting a lot of good advice. We've got a lot of great resources," Holder said.
Holder said he's aware that college basketball's signing period for recruits opens next week but while he'd like to have a coach on the job immediately, it's more important to get the right person for the long term.
"There's a lot of research to be done, a lot of people to talk to, and that doesn't happen quickly," Holder said.
The ideal candidate for Holder would also be comparable to Henry Iba, who won two national titles in 1945 and 1946 when the Stillwater school was still known as Oklahoma A&M.; Iba picked up 655 of his 767 career wins in 36 years at the school and coached U.S. Olympic teams to two gold medals and one silver.
He also was the mentor to Eddie Sutton, who led Oklahoma State to its most recent Final Four appearances in 1995 and 2004 with son Sean as an assistant.
"He's our foundation," Holder said. "You talk about wrestling here, you're going to talk about Ed Gallagher. You talk about basketball and you talk about Henry Iba."
Holder has said he was heartbroken when Self declined his offer to coach at Oklahoma State, but that feeling subsided a day later. He compared it to his experience when recruits turned him down during his run as Oklahoma State's golf coach, during which he guided the Cowboys to eight national championships.
"I'm a positive kind of person and kind of a fatalist," Holder said, "so I believe that the right coach is out there for us."