George Mason Final Four star Tony Skinn hired as hoops coach

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Tony Skinn, who helped lead 11th-seeded George Mason to the Final Four as a player in 2006, was hired Thursday as the men's basketball coach at the school.

Skinn replaces Kim English, who left George Mason for Providence after Ed Cooley departed Providence for Georgetown.

"Tony Skinn is the right man for this moment in Mason's basketball program," university president Gregory Washington said in a statement. "His coaching style will galvanize our student-athletes and his connection to our finest hour on the court is sure to electrify our alumni and fans."

Skinn was a starting guard for the Patriots 17 years ago when they picked up a series of surprising wins -- including against UConn in the regional final in Washington, about 20 miles from campus -- to make the semifinals at the NCAA tournament.

George Mason's coach at the time, Jim Larrañaga, is now at Miami and has the Hurricanes in this year's Final Four.

Skinn was most recently an assistant coach at Maryland. He also has worked at Ohio State, Seton Hall and Louisiana Tech.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to step back on campus," Skinn said. "I've had some of my greatest memories here and I'm looking forward to making new ones with our fans and our community."