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The Buffalo Rapids of the American Basketball Association have hired Rich Jacob as the franchise's first coach, the team announced today.

"This is a great opportunity for anyone in my position," said Jacob, who signed a four-year deal with the Rapids. "I'm feeling thankful and fortunate that I'm one of many talented Western New York coaches who's been afforded this opportunity."

The Rapids start their inaugural ABA season in November.

Jacob has been an assistant coach at Niagara, the University at Buffalo and, most recently, Buffalo State under Dick Bihr. He has been a head coach at Niagara County Community College, Villa Maria, Daemen and Medaille, and Athletics Director at Villa Maria and Medaille.

Jacob started the Sports Management program at Medaille, which has helped him build relationships with the Bills, Sabres and Bisons. He's conducted coaching clinics in five European countries and has a strong relationship with former Knicks General Manager Scott Layden.

"Not only is he very talented as a coach, but he believes in education and realizes that basketball goes further than just the game," Rapids owner Gary Nice said. "He has really strong connections in the NBA and overseas so he's everything I needed a coach to be."

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