More than 120 people applied for the job.
That list was narrowed down to five finalists.
And after a series of in-person and telephone interviews, a 29-year-old assistant coach from DeSales University was selected to replace Jeff Gamber as the leader of the York College men's basketball and golf programs.
The school announced Tuesday that Matt Hunter would become the Spartans' first new men's basketball head coach in more than 31/2 decades. He replaces a man who compiled a record of 493-425 over 36 years on the Spartans' basketball sideline.
"It was a very lengthy process because of the number of quality applicants we received," said Paul Saikia, York College's assistant dean for athletics and recreation. "It took us a little longer than we anticipated because of the number of people we brought onto campus. It was a very difficult process of narrowing it down."
When the search committee finally made its decision, Hunter emerged as the top candidate.
Hunter comes to York after spending the last four seasons as a full-time assistant at DeSales near Allentown. The Bulldogs went 84-32 during Hunter's tenure there and went to a pair of NCAA Division III Tournaments. They advanced to the Elite Eight in 2008-09 and to the Sweet 16 in 2009-10. DeSales won two Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Conference championships.
Head coaching experi ence: He also has some head-coaching experience. In 2007-2008, he was promoted from assistant coach to interim head coach at The College of New Jersey at age 24 when the team's head coach was promoted to athletic director. The Lions went 6-19 that season and Hunter was not retained on a permanent basis. He then moved on to DeSales.
"It was a great experience and I'm very thankful for it," Hunter said. "I learned a lot of things to do and a lot of things not to do."
Saikia said Hunter's brief head-coaching stop at New Jersey helped him land the York job.
"One of the qualities that drew us to Matt is that he had head coaching experience and that he had taken on that role at a time when he was probably not fully prepared," Saikia said. "It shows a lot of confidence -- something we want to see in all of our coaches."
Familiar with CAC: He is familiar with York College and the Capital Athletic Conference. He was a three-year letter winner at Salisbury University, which, like York, is a member of the CAC. He graduated from Salisbury with a degree in physical education in May of 2005. He posted a grade-point average of 3.62 and was a three-time CAC All-Academic Team selection. Hunter was a two-year captain for the Sea Gulls.
Hunter said he wasn't surprised to earn his first permanent head coaching job at age 29.
"I've really worked hard and put myself in this position," he said. "We had a great run at DeSales and I feel like, even though I'm 29, I've earned my stripes over the last seven years."
Hunter met briefly with the York players on Tuesday and said he looks forward to working with them next season. York finished 18-11 last season and won the CAC Tournament title.
"I want players who are, first and foremost, great people," he said. "Being good students and good players are important, but I feel kids with great character will provide us with our best chance to be champions."
Hunter acknowledged that succeeding Gamber won't be easy, but he looks forward to the challenge.
"Coach Gamber has set a great standard of excellence and I look forward to being able to continue that tradition," Hunter said.
Building a staff: Hunter now has to start the process of compiling a staff. One man who won't be part of that staff is Dean Gamber, who is Jeff Gamber's son. Dean Gamber was an assistant at York for the last 17 seasons. Saikia said Dean Gamber was initially a candidate for his father's position, but later withdrew his candidacy. Saikia said Dean Gamber continues to work at York College in campus mail services.
It's uncertain at this point if York's other assistant under Gamber last season, former Spartans' standout Nick Brady, will remain with the staff.
Golf job: In addition, Hunter said he looks forward to taking over the golf team. He's never been a golf coach, but he is a golfer. Gamber led the golf team for 29 years and his teams won approximately 70 percent of their matches over the last decade.
"Obviously the golf team has been very successful under Coach Gamber and I am looking to continue that success," Hunter said. "It will be a responsibility that I embrace."
-- Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdis patch.com or at 854-1575, ext. 455.