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March 23, 2012

Sausage Being Made - Duquesne Fires Basketball Coach

Below is an email from the University president to the Board of (fill in the blank with name that symbolizes figurehead committee) of the University. I copied it in its entirity due to the very frank nature of the language. While there are many differences in a Catholic school in Pittsburgh and other schools, some of the reasons for the firing appear very...familiar.  

I have accepted the recommendation of AD Greg Amodio to terminate Ron Everhart's position as head coach of our basketball program. Ron was informed moments ago. A press release will go out shortly and there will be a press conference this afternoon.
We are very grateful to Ron for bringing our program out of a long moribund period, a skill he demonstrated at two previous universities and the very reason we hired him. However, as was the case in his two previous posts, he has stalled at a modest plateau with our program. It is clear that we will not be capable of moving to the next level of excellence with Ron at the helm. By next level, I mean annual contention for the top of the A10 conference, regular appearances in the NIT and periodic appearances in the NCAA tournaments. We reached the conclusion that this kind of performance was impossible under his leadership due to uneven recruiting, large turnovers among his student athletes and coaching staff, an overall average win-loss record and a losing record in the A10, poor performance in close games, the predictable collapse of our teams late in the season, and a general disorganization and lack of communication that is clear to those close to the program. The recent loss of TJ McConnell and other players from the team is part of an unfortunate pattern and an indication of the current decline in our program.
The University has invested a great deal in our men's program. Since Ron has been with us, the Palumbo Center has been nearly totally renovated at a cost of over $5m. We have increased the program's operating budget by over 75%. On critical occasions, I have aided Ron directly by meeting personally with leading student prospects and their families to talk about Duquesne and our support of the basketball program. It is reasonable to expect a higher level of excellence for this kind of University commitment.
We are confident that we can find a new coach who will build on what Ron has accomplished. We have a great tradition, a virtually new home facility, the proximity and close relationship with the Consol Center, an effective AD, a core fan base that is hungry for a better product, and a strong University commitment to the program. While not a regular contender for leadership in our conference, Duquesne is no longer the doormat. The A10 conference itself is on the verge of a major improvement with the addition of new high quality university programs. All of this amounts to an exciting professional opportunity for a new coach.
The immediate future will be a bit bumpy; difficult personnel decisions always are. Ron has his supporters and he is well-liked as a person. But long term success in our men's basketball program is best served by acting decisively now and making clear that we are committed to greater excellence here—as we are throughout Duquesne University.
Thank you for your support. 
It should be noted that Duquesne was a basketball powerhouse in the '50 and '60s, so this isn't a delusional fan base expecting Final Four or bust with no history to back it up. This is a University that wants to be competitive in its conference and not much more.



Anonymous said...

I'm not sure whether you were implying that this situation is similar to UGA's situation with Fox. Because, it clearly isn't.

Everhart has been a head coach in D1 for 17 years and has never made an NCAA Tournament appearance. Fox has been to 4 NCAATs in 8 seasons - including one with UGA.

Everhart was given 6 years at Duquesne. Fox has been at UGA for 3, and earned an at-large NCAAT bid in one of those years - only the 9th at-large bid in school history, I believe.

If, after 6 years, Fox hasn't taken the team back to the NCAAT, he will be fired. I don't think there is much doubt about that, and I don't think many would argue otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Replace A-10 and Duquesne University with SEC and UGA. Start to sound familiar?

I want to see Fox win with this team, but we are getting close to reexamining again the direction of the program that is woefully underachieving.

Tyler Dawgden said...

There are similarities, most importantly with the administration being interested in doing more than merely filling the other conference team's schedules.

I agree comparing Fox and Everhart's careers is uneven. However, if you were to look at, say Dennis Felton in year three, you would have said Felton has three NCAAT and three NIT appearances in seven seasons. Felton did it by winning the Sun Belt the three years immediately prior to coming to Georgia with a player that was clearly better than his Sun Belt peers. Fox did the same at Nevada, but did get two of his bids at-large, so that is a plus in my mind.

The Duke's AD is looking at uneven recruiting and a clear lack of ability to finish games, among other things. That definitely sounds familiar right now.

I'm by no means in the FireFox now crowd. That doesn't mean looking overall, there needs to be more upward trajectory than downward for my opinion to remain positive.

Anonymous said...

To the first anonymous poster,

You must be out of your mind if you think Fox will return for a 6th season if we don't make the tourney in either of the next 2 years.

Anonymous said...

He could certainly be fired after Year 5 if UGA misses the NCAAT the next two years, but I don't think it is a certainty.

Changing coaches every 5 or so years isn't always the answer. If Fox is able to turn up the recruiting between now and then, then I think giving him 6 years could be in UGA's best interests.

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