Daemen College is known for a couple of things. One, is its renowned physical therapy program and the second, albeit less known is consistency within its basketball programs. On the women's side, Dave Skolen has been the head coach since the 1992-1993 season and Don Silveri has been at the helm on the men's side since the 1989-1990 season. That's 47 years between two men, a consistent and up until now, a successful run.
The Wildcats---most of you didn't know their nickname---are now playing sports at the NCAA Division II level. Before that, they competed at the NAIA level, which is comprised mostly of smaller, private schools. Down the road, Roberts Wesleyan (North Chili, near Rochester) also made the move from NAIA to Division II, so could there be another installment of a Thruway rivalry?
Having a Division II program in the area is a great idea. Western New York produces solid basketball talent, but sometimes our star scholastic players get overwhelmed at the Division I level. The area has solid Division III programs with the likes of Buffalo State, Geneseo, Fredonia and Brockport and things are on the up at Niagara County Community College under the guidance of Bill Beilein (yes, he's related to John) and Erie Community College has a good and proud basketball history as well.
Don Silveri will not be around for season 26. He was relieved of his duties and will be replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach Mike Miranto. In 25 years, he amassed a 414-344 record including 21-7 in 2013-2014. No reason was given for his departure and Athletic Director Bridget Niland has been mum on the subject since the Buffalo News broke the story in time for its Monday edition. We're not sure if Silveri committed a violation or perhaps didn't mesh well with Nialnd, who was appointed AD on July 15 of this year.
Silveri has been a mainstay in WNY basketball for over 30 years. He was the head coach at Erie Community College and three times he took the Kats to NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. He coached there from 1982 to 1986 and two players, Ray Salters and Ray Swogger went on to play Division I basketball at Cleveland State and Western Kentucky after their playing careers at ECC had ended.
Prior to his run at ECC, he spent two seasons working under the legendary Dick Bihr at Buffalo State, and after a stint as head coach at Villa Maria College, Silveri landed on Main Street at Daemen in 1989 and stayed there for 25 seasons. Nine times his teams won 20 games, including a run of four straight from 2002 to 2006. His 2012-2013 team went 27-6, so one thing is clear: he wasn't dismissed for not winning.
Hopefully, we will find out what happened behind the scenes at Daemen College; hopefully Niland, the caretaker of the athletic program will make some sort of public statement as to why Silveri is no longer employed as men's basketball coach at the college.
America is a country of second chances and Silveri certainly benefitted from one. His tenure at Erie CC ended in shame when he admitted to changing the grades of "10 to 15 players," in May, 1984, admitting it two years later. He was dismissed and was out of coaching until he took the Villa Maria job. With the Wildcats ascending to the Division II level, is Silveri guilty of impropriety again?
Most athletes and coaches don't get to dictate the terms of their goodbye (except for maybe John Elway), and it looks like Silveri didn't either. As mentioned, here's hoping that the truth will surface and the shroud of secrecy currently veiled at Daemen College will be lifted in time for the 2014-2015 season.