TopConnect: Bringing Athletic Directors and Assistant Coaches Together Again

June 25th, 2018 | by CollegeAD
TopConnect: Bringing Athletic Directors and Assistant Coaches Together Again


In March of 2002, Jeff Capel III became the youngest Division I Head Basketball Coach in the country when VCU hired him. Capel was 27 years old. With only two years of coaching experience on the college level, conventional wisdom would tell any athletic director that Capel would have a relatively long tenure leading VCU’s basketball fortunes. After finishing 18-10 and finishing 2nd in the CAA, Capel started drawing interest from nationally branded schools. Both Auburn and Miami called the young coach and serious discussions followed.

As Capel started drawing interest from Power Five programs VCU AD Dr. Dick Sander realized he needs to develop a plan for succession.

With that in mind, Sander developed a program called Villa 7 that brought together the preeminent assistant coaches in the country with mid-major athletic directors in both formal and informal situations. The program had mid-major AD’s gather to discuss major topics pertinent to their situation for roundtable discussions and then a symposium where AD’s would share hiring thoughts, expectations of basketball coaches and general important facts that would benefit any aspiring head coach. Additionally, successful head coaches shared their thoughts on the “first 100 days of their head coaching job” and many other valuable insights.

Dr. Richard Sander

With the help of Old Dominion athletic director Dr. Wood Selig, former Delaware AD Edgar Johnson, former mid-major coaches Joe Cantafio and Rick Boyages (now Associate Commissioner for Basketball Big 10) AD’s and coaches were recruited for the first event. After the first event current Samford AD Martin Newton who was working for Nike in college basketball, reached out and Nike became a partner. Throughout the years the program has spawned many high profile current head coaches and created relationships within the inner circle of college basketball.

Over the last three years, many coaches and AD’s had encouraged Dr. Sander to resurrect the program and he has.  Now a 2018 version of the program, TopConnect, is being brought back by Dr. Sander with the assistance of Dr. Selig, Boyages, Albany AD Mark Benson, Mike Capaccio VP Citadel and Virginia Tech Director of Student-Athlete Development Dr. Lyle Wolf.

Under the new name of TopConnect with Arms Software being the title sponsor and Van Wagner, Daktronics and Fast Model Sports pitching in to provide funding.

“TopConnect is going to be a 2018 model of what was created after folks started pursuing Jeff Capel after his first year. I think it will be a huge benefit to coaches and AD’s and my plan is to have an ongoing program, not just a one time a year event”, emphasized Sander.

TopConnect is set for July 23 and 24 in Las Vegas prior to the many AAU tournaments.

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