Northwest Florida begins search for men's basketball coach

NICEVILLE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Sports are cyclical.

Winning streaks, losing streaks—however long, however short—come and go, as do players and coaches.

Northwest Florida would love for Steve DeMeo's winning tenure as men's basketball head coach to last forever, but that's not how these things work.

After six seasons, 170 wins, a national title in 2015, and the duplication of conference and state title banners, DeMeo stepped aside Thursday to accept a position as assistant coach at St. John's.

Seeing as most scholarships aren't signed until the summer months, the Raiders aren't behind yet, but there's not time to waste.

Athletic director Ramsey Ross is casting a wide net, provided the candidates meet certain criteria.

"We want to make sure that their priorities are in line with our priorities," Ross said. "Not only success in basketball, but also success in life and in the classroom. I know that sounds cliche, but I think all three of them, if you're lacking in one, the results aren't going to show up in the win column. There's going to be a lot of people with Division I experience that are going to be interested in the job that may not have head coaching experience and they're certainly not going to be ruled out."

While DeMeo was certainly exceptional, a sentiment echoed by Ross and NWFSC president Dr. Devin Stephenson in statements Thursday, the hope is that the framework for success is permanent regardless of who is named coach.

"We pride ourselves on providing infrastructure the coaches will need to succeed," Ross added. "We have excellent support from our administration. Obviously our facilities are second to none. All the pieces are in place for success, but that doesn't guarantee success. There's no guarantee that the next coach will be successful, but I do feel confident that we're going to get a person in here who will continue to carry the torch that he's already established."

The Raiders spent much of last season ranked No. 1 in the nation, finishing 28-5 overall.