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Archive for Sunday, February 12, 2006

Contract buyout unsettled, Snyder remains mum

February 12, 2006

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— The day after his surprise resignation, former Missouri basketball coach Quin Snyder still wasn't saying why he stepped down.

Snyder awaited closure on his seven seasons at the school Saturday before commenting on his downfall. That exit speech was postponed at least a day after the Board of Curators met to discuss a contract buyout and then after 11â2 hours of deliberations scheduled a meeting this morning on the same topic.

Associate head coach Melvin Watkins will coach the final six regular-season games plus the Big 12 tournament. The Tigers (10-11) have lost six in a row by an average of 19 points, the longest slump at the school since 1992-93, entering today's home game against Kansas State.

The media were barred from attending Missouri's practice, as is often the case at the school, Saturday morning. Players were ruled off limits.

Athletic director Mike Alden had no comment as he left the Board of Curators meeting. He also declined comment on a newspaper report that he had radio and TV basketball analyst Gary Link, a special assistant to the athletic director, deliver the news to Snyder that he would not be retained after this season.

"I have nothing to say," Link said before broadcasting the Missouri women's game against Kansas on Saturday. "I have no comment. I'm running and hiding."

Snyder, 39, quit Friday, a day after saying he intended to finish the season but after discovering he had no future at the school. He leaves with two years remaining on a contract that has a base salary of $190,000 and a total package worth more than $1 million a season.

Speculation began long ago on a successor for Snyder, who was 42-42 in his last three seasons at Missouri. Snyder survived a scandal involving point guard Ricky Clemons that landed the school on NCAA probation for three years and included a one-year ban on off-campus recruiting, but not the losing and the drastic drop in attendance at the year-old Mizzou Sports Arena.

The team is averaging 8,252, or just over half-full at the 15,061-seat arena. Fans appear indifferent and left in droves midway through the second half of a 24-point loss to Iowa State last month.

That setback was the worst at home in 45 years. The Tigers also dropped the season opener at home to Sam Houston State and beat lightly regarded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by one point.

The list of possible replacements is long and varied. Among those who may be considered are Greg McDermott of Northern Iowa, Mike Anderson of UAB, Mike Crean of Marquette, John Beilein of West Virginia and Mark Turgeon of Wichita State.

Two others in the Valley, Dana Altman of Creighton and Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois, have been mentioned. But Altman is well-entrenched at Creighton and was unsuccessful in a previous Big 12 stint at Kansas State.

Turgeon is unlikely because he went to Kansas, Missouri's arch rival.

"Obviously, we're excited that they have four candidates from the Valley that they like," Valley associate commissioner Mike Kern said. "They've all got good resumes, and they're all worthy candidates."

Northern Iowa leads the Missouri Valley Conference, has its third straight 20-win season and is the Top 25 for the first time in school history under McDermott, who is in his fifth season. Northern Iowa, Marquette, West Virginia and UAB all were in the top 50 in the RPI rankings.

Watkins is not believed to be a candidate. In his last season at Texas A&M in 2004, the school was winless in the Big 12. Watkins, 51, was 21-75 in Big 12 play during his six seasons there.

Beilein would be a pricey hire, since the school has a $3.5 million buyout clause in his contract.

The first game without Snyder will feature several members of the school's 30-player all-century team, which will be honored at halftime. The team includes 20 consensus All-Americans and 10 at-large players and five Snyder products: Kareem Rush, Arthur Johnson, Rickey Paulding, Clarence Gilbert and Keyon Dooling.

The game will feature two interim coaches for the first time in conference history. Kansas State coach Jim Wooldridge underwent surgery to remove a bulging disk in his neck Wednesday, and assistant Jim Elgas will be in charge for the second straight game.

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