ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico associate head basketball coach Craig Neal is a serious candidate for at least two major college head coaching positions, the Journal has learned.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Neal interviewed at Central Michigan on Friday, and he is scheduled to interview this Friday for the opening at Colorado State.
Neal, who attended the Final Four in New Orleans, could not be reached for comment.
Neal is one of a handful of coaches on CSU’s short list, including current Rams interim coach Craig Smith and St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap. The job opened just more than a week ago when Tim Miles left after five seasons to take the head coaching position in Nebraska. Miles went 20-12 this past season and led the Rams into the NCAA Tournament.
The Lobos have gone 125-46 and have been to the NCAA Tournament twice in the past five seasons under coach Steve Alford, with Neal as his top assistant all five years.
Central Michigan, which plays in the Mid-American Conference, fired coach Ernie Zeigler after going 11-21 this season and 5-11 for a fifth-place finish in the six-team West Division. Zeigler had two years left on his contract.
Neal, 48, was an assistant under Alford for three years at Iowa and was an NBA scout and assistant coach with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors from 1996-2004. He was a star guard at Georgia Tech and played for three seasons in the NBA for three teams, including the Denver Nuggets.
Neal’s son, Cullen Neal, helped lead Eldorado to the state 5A championship this season as a junior. Cullen has given a verbal commitment to play for Saint Mary’s in California.