Archive for Saturday, February 11, 2006

Quin quits

Embattled MU coach flip-flops, resigns

February 11, 2006

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— Missouri basketball coach Quin Snyder resigned Friday, one day after saying he planned to finish what had become a disappointing season.

Associate head coach Melvin Watkins will guide the team in what appears to be a temporary move. A brief statement said only that Watkins would serve as "acting head coach" for the Kansas State game Sunday.

"I know there are a lot of questions people have, but that's the level of detail we can get into," said Chad Moller, the school's sports information director.

Increasing public scrutiny over his uncertain future contributed to Snyder's sudden decision, men's

basketball SID Dave Reiter said.

After a 10-5 start that culminated with an overtime victory against rival Kansas University, the Tigers lost six straight. All six of those losses have been by double digits, including a 26-point loss to Baylor on Tuesday. The Bears are in last place in the Big 12 Conference and had one win going into that game.

Missouri has fallen to 3-7 - and next-to-last place - in the Big 12.

Snyder spoke to his team before practice Friday and said he was leaving.

"What he told us is, it's an opportunity to get back to playing basketball. All the speculation was a heavy burden," Reiter said.

Snyder leaves after a seven-year stint, compiling a 126-91 record. He had two years remaining on a contract that paid him a base salary of $190,000. His total compensation package at Missouri, including incentives, was worth more than $1 million a season.

Snyder, who played on three Final Four teams at Duke and was an assistant to coach Mike Krzyzewski, was hired to replace the retiring Norm Stewart and take Missouri to national prominence. He had 20-win teams in three of his first four seasons, including an appearance in the final eight. But the Tigers were only 42-42 since then, and attendance has dropped despite a new arena that opened last season.

Snyder said before practice Thursday that he hadn't been asked to resign and didn't plan to.

"I'm coaching my team, so I'm going to keep doing that until someone tells me not to, keep working as hard as I can," Snyder said at the time.

The program has also been marred by scandal. In 2004, it was placed on NCAA probation for three years following questionable activities surrounding former point guard Ricky Clemons. The school avoided a ban from postseason play but was prohibited from off-campus recruiting for one year.

Watkins is in his second season with Missouri after six seasons as head coach at Texas A&M.; Watkins also coached Charlotte to a 42-20 record from 1996 to 1998, during which he had two NCAA Tournament appearances.

His son, Marcus, also is a reserve guard for the Tigers.

Watkins was scheduled to address the change at a news conference, but Missouri scrapped those plans. Moller read a brief statement and declined to answer questions.

A hastily rescheduled evening practice with Watkins in charge was also canceled.

Missouri's first order of business likely will include persuading frustrated players to stick it out. Junior guard Thomas Gardner, who leads Missouri and the Big 12 in scoring with 20.2 points a game, said Thursday he would consider leaving school early for the NBA if Snyder no longer was the coach.

Sophomore point guard Jason Horton also has said he would play only for Snyder at Missouri.

Charlotte Bobcats guard Kareem Rush, who played for Snyder at Missouri, was surprised when he learned the news.

"Coach Q was a great coach when I was there, but he had a rocky last couple of years," Rush said. "It's unfortunate. He's a great coach, and I know he's going to bounce back some other place. But it was probably time for him to leave. A lot of people wanted him out of there."

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