Oklahoma fires basketball coach Jeff Capel after two losing seasons

March 15, 2011


— Oklahoma fired coach Jeff Capel on Monday after he followed a trip to the NCAA tournament’s regional finals with the program’s first back-to-back losing seasons since 1967.

Capel was 96-69 in five seasons with the Sooners, but just 27-36 over the past two after Blake Griffin entered the NBA draft early and became the No. 1 overall pick.

“This isn’t about our current team or the record of this past season. This is, again, looking at the entire program and our ability to be successful going forward,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “I weighed all the factors, and I reached the conclusion that a change was in the best interest of the University of Oklahoma.

“It was not an easy decision to reach, mind you, but it certainly is the one I made and made with conviction.”

Castiglione said his decision was based not on one factor but on the “totality” of the program, which landed under NCAA investigation again just as its probation was about to end, encountered a severe attendance drop and frequently lost players to early departures.

Capel had five years left on the contract that was extended after he made it within a win of the 2009 Final Four, with Griffin leading the way. He was making $1.5 million per year, and had annual raises and stay bonuses built into the contract. His buyout will be in excess of $2 million.

A clause in Capel’s contract allows the university to avoid a buyout payment if he was fired for cause, but Castiglione said that’s “not something that we anticipate being an issue.”

College basketball

Pelphrey doesn’t agree with firing

Fayetteville, Ark. — John Pelphrey made his feelings clear on his way out at Arkansas.

The former Razorbacks coach, speaking for the first time since being fired by athletic director Jeff Long on Sunday, said Monday that he didn’t feel he was given enough time to complete a turnaround at the school.

“I do not agree with the decision yesterday to make a change,” Pelphrey said. “I do not. I absolutely do not. Obviously, I would have liked more time. It takes time to build stability in a program. Every situation is different. This situation was different.

“I know we were really close to reaping some of the rewards of all our hard work.”

ISU F McKnight to transfer

Ames, Iowa — Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg says forward Eric McKnight will transfer. McKnight played sparingly as a freshman for the Cyclones this season. McKnight, a native of Raleigh, N.C., averaged just 1.1 points and 0.6 rebounds in 14 games.

College football

Tressel apologizes to fans

Canton, Ohio — Ohio State coach Jim Tressel apologized to a room full of fans during his first public speaking engagement since being suspended two games and fined for violating NCAA rules.

Speaking to a packed dining room full of 400 fans — many of them clad in the Buckeyes’ scarlet and gray colors — at a luncheon sponsored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tressel began his remarks by saying he couldn’t say much about the recent troubles at Ohio State.

He then said, “I sincerely apologize for what we’ve been through.”


Negotiator: 10-year CBA proposed

Washington — Had enough of the he-said, he-said rancor between the NFL and players? Don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.

The outcome of the league’s first work stoppage since 1987 could be decided in court; the first hearing on the players’ request for an injunction to block the owners’ lockout was scheduled for April 6. In the meantime, there probably will be more of the same as Monday, when Kevin Mawae — president of the NFL Players Association, the now-dissolved union — accused the league of spreading “complete falsehoods and complete lies.”

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, on the same conference call as Mawae, said the owners’ final offer Friday “was all a front.”

“I think it was all a show, with no real intent to get a deal done, other than just to say they made a proposal — that was no different than anything else that they proposed over the last couple years, couple months, couple weeks,” said Brees, a named plaintiff in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the league.

Brees and Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, also a member of the players’ executive committee, complained that the players were not given enough time to assess and ask questions about the proposal owners made Friday morning.

“It just seems odd you would wait until Friday to put out a 20-point proposal, when each point has a number of different details in it,” Saturday said.

The NFL’s lead labor negotiator, Jeff Pash, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that Friday’s proposal contained various new provisions. He said owners offered a 10-year deal.

“I was frankly surprised that the (owners’ labor) committee supported an offer as forthcoming as that was,” Pash said.

He also said the league would have been willing to agree to a third extension to the collective bargaining agreement, which originally was due to expire at the end of March 3, before two delays.


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