When it came time for Robert Morris University Director of Athletics Craig Coleman, M.D., to name a new head coach for the men's basketball program, he didn't have to look far.
Andrew Toole was introduced as the eighth head coach in the 35-year Division I history at a press conference at the Charles L. Sewall Center May 11, 2010, and the 2011-12 campaign marks his second season as head coach of the Colonials.
Anyone familiar with the success RMU has had in recent seasons should be familiar with Toole. Named as former head coach Mike Rice's top assistant in 2007-08, Toole spent the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons as Associate Head Coach at Robert Morris.
Moving one office over in the basketball suite seemed a natural progression and a step that Toole was ready to take.
"I'm unbelievably excited to be the head coach at Robert Morris University," Toole said at the time of his hiring. "It's an incredible opportunity that I've been given by the University, the search committee, Dr. Dell'Omo and Dr. Coleman. I'm honored they felt I was the right individual to continue the success of this program. I take that honor very seriously, and I'm going to work incredibly hard and tirelessly to prove those people right while continuing to build on the success that we've had."
In his first season at the helm in 2010-11, Toole continued RMU's recent run of success, leading the Colonials to an overall record of 18-14 (.563), including a mark of the 12-6 (.667) in the Northeast Conference. Robert Morris advanced to its third straight NEC Tournament championship game, falling three minutes shy of earning its third consecutive title before falling in overtime to Long Island, 85-82.
Despite a roster that features just one senior for the second straight year, Toole will lead a program in 2011-12 that is looking for its third NEC Tournament championship in four years, a feat that has been accomplished only once in league history. The Colonials won the 1989, 1990 and 1992 NEC Tournament crowns.
"Our players are not old, but they should have an understanding of what it takes to win," Toole said. "Let's take the last 10 or 12 games of last year and now mesh the new guys in and keep going in the right direction."
Toole is at the helm of an RMU program that has experienced unprecedented success over the last five years. The Colonials own NEC records for victories over the span of two, three, four and five years.
Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, Robert Morris owns an overall record of 108-56 (.659), with the 108 victories both a school and NEC record for a five-year span. Since Toole joined the staff in 2007-08, the Colonials have posted an overall record of 91-45 (.669).
While RMU's overall success is apparent, the program's accomplishments in the NEC are also clear.
Over the last four years, the Colonials have posted a mark of 58-14 (.806) against league opposition and enter the 2011-12 season having finished no lower than third over that span.
Robert Morris won outright NEC regular-season titles in 2008 and 2009 and shared the championship in 2010 with Quinnipiac with Toole as a member of the staff.
RMU followed up its success in the regular season by becoming the first team in NEC history in 16 years to win back-to-back NEC Tournament championships by earning a 52-50 win over Quinnipiac in the 2010 NEC Tournament championship game in Hamden, Conn.
In 2008, the Colonials made their first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), dropping an 87-81 decision to No. 1 overall seed Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. In both 2009 and 2010, RMU earned automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament thanks to winning their sixth and seventh NEC Tournament championships, respectively.
In the 2009 NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed, the Colonials fell to eventual national runner-up Michigan State, 77-62, in the first round at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.
In the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Robert Morris nearly upset No. 2 seed Villanova in the first round at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., before falling, 73-70, in overtime.
"Andy is the perfect candidate to provide leadership to our program," Coleman said. "He has been instrumental in helping to get the program to the heights that it's already achieved, and for that reason we believe the continuity that he provides for our program is important."
The recent success RMU has had with Toole as a member of the coaching staff at Robert Morris allowed the program to finish the decade of the 2000s as the top team in the Northeast Conference for overall victories with 162.
RMU's record of 100-38 (.725) at the Charles L. Sewall Center the last 10 years is also the best mark in the NEC in terms of both wins and winning percentage, and over that same time span the Colonials are tops in the conference against league foes at home with an overall record of 67-24 (.736).
"Andrew Toole is an extremely talented, bright and hard-working young man who will guide our student-athletes to be successful in the classroom as well as on the basketball court," said Dell'Omo. "I am confident he will take the basketball program at RMU to new heights."
At 31 years old, Toole is the youngest head coach at the Division I level.
Prior to coming to Robert Morris in 2007, Toole spent the 2006-07 season as an assistant at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.
While an assistant with the Leopards, Toole assisted in all facets of the program, from recruiting to player development. He was responsible for helping recruit student-athletes that helped lead Lafayette to the 2010 Patriot League Tournament championship game against Lehigh.
Between 2004 and 2006, Toole spent two years with The Hoop Group in Neptune, N.J. He served as the director of the Eastern Invitational Basketball Clinic, where he handled logistical management for the nation's largest high school exposure camp.
Also during his time with The Hoop Group, Toole maintained relationships with elite high school and AAU coaches. Also in 2004, Toole served as the director of Rebounds, a 28,000-square foot facility where high school players focus on development.
Toole is the fifth coach with ties to The Hoop Group to be named a head coach at the NCAA Division I level. He joins Rice (Rutgers), Greg Vetrone (Fairleigh Dickinson), Chucky Martin (Marist) and Jesse Agel (Brown).
Toole was a four-year starter at the Division I level, playing for Elon University (1998-2000) before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania (2000-03).
In two seasons with the Quakers, Toole helped guide Penn to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003. A co-captain of the 2002-03 Penn team that finished with an overall record of 22-6, in two years as a starter Toole helped lead the Quakers to an overall record of 47-13 (.783).
During his two seasons at Penn, the Quakers posted a record of 7-1 in the Philadelphia Big 5, an informal association of college athletic programs in Philadelphia, Pa., that includes Penn, La Salle, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova. Penn finished 4-0 in 2001-02, and it's only loss in 2002-03 came against Saint Joseph's.
Over his four-year career at Elon and Penn, Toole averaged 12.3 points per contest, finishing with 1,341 points in 109 games. He also posted averages of 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.
In two seasons at Penn, Toole hit 104 three-pointers and on his career finished with 212. He was an All-Ivy League First Team selection in 2001-02, an All-Ivy League Second Team honoree in 2002-03 and was named to the All-Big 5 Team in both 2002 and 2003.
A member of the Friars Senior Society at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002-03, Toole earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Penn in 2003.
Toole, who married the former Brooke Kelly June 3, 2011, resides in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon, Pa.