Marian Washington has one more season -- the final year of a three-year contract -- to turn the Kansas University women's basketball program around.
"I'm honoring the last year of her contract," KU athletic director Al Bohl said Tuesday. "Marian will be coaching next year."
Bohl would not say, however, what Washington has to do in order to have her contract renewed after the 2003-04 season.
"There's not a number (of wins) or anything like that," Bohl said. "I just feel we should be a top-level team in the Big 12 Conference, and Marian understands that."
Washington, who just completed her 30th year as KU's head coach, has had three straight losing seasons. The Jayhawks were 11-18 overall, including a 3-13 mark in the Big 12. Over the last three years, Washington has compiled a 28-60 record, including 8-40 in the Big 12 regular season.
Prior to the three-year sinking spell, Washington had won at least 20 games for 11 consecutive seasons. She has had 17 seasons of 20-plus victories in her three decades on Mount Oread.
"I have a great deal of respect for what coach Washington has meant to women's basketball," Bohl said. "At the same time I have an obligation to make decisions that are in the best interests of the University of Kansas."
As Kansas women's basketball has gone into a tailspin over the last three seasons, home attendance has dwindled. KU's crowds ranked last in the Big 12 during the 2002-03 campaign. Only about 1,200 fans on average watched the KU women play in 16,300-seat Allen Fieldhouse.
Neither Bohl nor Washington would say if she asked for a contract extension.
"Marian knows where we've been the last three years," Bohl said. "And I think we're at the point that we will make an evaluation on a year-to-year basis."
Washington earns the same basic annual salary of about $130,000 as football coach Mark Mangino and men's basketball coach Roy Williams. However, her outside compensation is much less. She earns a minimum of $35,000 from her radio package, and $25,000 for her summer camp. She also receives an annual travel allowance of $10,500 for personal guests at KU games, plus two automobiles, country club memberships and a $2 million term life insurance policy.
Washington maintained an optimistic outlook all season. The seven leading scorers on the 2002-03 team were either freshmen or sophomores. Of those seven, six were newcomers. The lone returnee among the top seven was sophomore Blair Waltz.
"We have some good talent," Washington said, "and they are all going to be back next season, which is very encouraging. Every day the team comes back trying to get better."
To that mix, Washington will add Lauren Ervin, one of the nation's most highly recruited high school players, next season. The 6-foot-3 Ervin was recruited by national power Tennessee, among others.