How would you feel about a career change that involved a pay cut
of at least $500,000 annually? Your new job would mean working
nights and weekends with little job security. Sound good? Well,
Mark Alarie thought it did. Alarie, 36, a former All-ACC forward
at Duke, was settling into a career in investment banking when
he decided last spring to junk it and accept an entry-level
assistant coaching position on the Navy basketball staff. "I
don't even know what I make anymore," he says.
After six injury-plagued seasons in the NBA, with the Denver
Nuggets and the Washington Bullets, Alarie entered Penn's
Wharton School of Business in 1993, earned his M.B.A. in '95 and
was soon working at the institutional sales desk of Alex Brown
in Baltimore. Sure, Alarie was a budding Master of the Universe,
but old college pals are hard to shake, and when he would speak
with former teammates Tommy Amaker, Johnny Dawkins, David
Henderson or Quin Snyder, they didn't exactly talk Alan
Greenspan or growth stocks. They had played together on a 37-3
Duke squad that lost a thriller to Louisville in the '86 NCAA
final, and now all--except Alarie--were coaching college
Big commissions aside, Alarie didn't find a career in finance as
satisfying as chasing national championships. He covered the
Southeast region of the U.S., talking to clients, traveling and
entertaining. "I had pictured a Wall Street life for a long
time," he says, "but I didn't really know what I was getting
Then last spring Alarie read in The Washington Post that an
assistant's job was available at Navy. "Immediately, I saw
myself there," he says. "It was something that had been tugging
at me for a while." His college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, had
spoken highly of Navy head coach Don De Voe, who had been an
assistant at Army when Krzyzewski was the Cadets' captain.
Krzyzewski encouraged Alarie to apply for the job, and last
April he was hired. This season Alarie enjoyed teaching soft
turnarounds and power drop steps to Midshipmen post players like
Sitapha Savane. "I used to study [Hakeem] Olajuwon's moves,"
says Alarie, whose tutoring helped Navy to a 23-6 record this
year. "I can tell some good NBA stories."
Alarie lives with his wife, Rene, and their two-year-old
daughter, Isabella, in Bethesda, Md., a 45-mile commute to the
Naval Academy. His goal is to become a college head coach. "I
didn't take the traditional career track," he says, "but I'm
more prepared for coaching than I was for investment banking."
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN (COVER)
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS
The former Blue Devil junked a lucrative career on Wall Street
to become an assistant coach at Navy.