Friday, March 17, 2006

Now That Wayne Morgan Is History At Iowa State, Jamie Pollard Won't Have To Go Far To Find a New Coach -- UNI's Greg McDermott

I received Mike Green's e-mail at 7:25 a.m. today.

Green is the sports information representative for men's basketball at Iowa State.

His e-mail began "Media Advisory."


That means one thing.

It's something big.

It said there will be a press conference at 11 o'clock this morning at the Jacobson Athletic Building on the Iowa State campus.

Athletic director Jamie Pollard, who has been on the job since only September, will be addressing reporters.

It will be a "significant announcement," the e-mail said.

Wayne Morgan is gone as the Cyclones' basketball coach.

Not a big surprise, really.

You read it here first.

In these columns yesterday, an in-the-know reader said Morgan's time is up.

He's "toast," the guy said.

Morgan [right] was shown the door swiftly by Pollard and other Iowa State officials after his role in a recruiting/scheduling controversy surfaced.

Moving quickly to get rid of Morgan enables Pollard to hire his own man as the Cyclones' coach. He now won't have to carry Morgan around as unwanted baggage.

Morgan had been the fifth or sixth choice as coach when Larry Eustachy was dumped a couple of years ago for excessive drinking and kissing college women -- whether they wanted to be kissed or not.

It's interesting that the Iowa State press conference will be held just before and during Iowa's opening game in the NCAA tournament against Northwestern State at Auburn Hills, Mich., and 2 1/2 hours before Northern Iowa's game against Georgetown at Dayton, Ohio.

I would imagine that Greg McDermott [left], Northern Iowa's successful and clean-cut coach, will be paying careful attention to what's going on in Ames.

My guess is that McDermott will be on the short list of candidates -- maybe even the favorite -- when Pollard starts the search for a new coach.

Indeed, that search may already be under way.

Can you imagine the goofiness that might be taking place in this state soon?

Iowa coach Steve Alford is thought by many -- certainly by me -- to be heading to Indiana to succeed Mike Davis as the Hoosiers' coach.

McDermott could be leaving UNI and heading to Iowa State.

So all three schools -- Iowa, Iowa State and UNI -- could have new coaches next season.

Here's Green's media advisory that was sent to me today:


AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State University Athletics Department has called an 11 a.m. news conference (Friday, March 17, 2006) to make a significant announcement. Jamie Pollard, Iowa State University’s Director of Athletics, will be present for the announcement, which will be held in the Jacobson Athletic Building.

* * *

iI just had a horrible thought.

I hope Indiana officials weren't paying a lot of attention to Iowa's game against Northwestern State in today's NCAA tournament at Auburn Hills.

I hope nobody tells them that Alford's team, which was seeded No. 3, blew a 17-point lead and lost to 14th-seeded Northwestern State.

There was no excuse for that, of course. Iowa had no business losing the game.

Good teams don't lose games like that.

I sure hope the loss doesn't screw up Alford's chances of getting the Indiana job.

Please hire the guy.

* * *

Here's Iowa State's announcement on the firing of Morgan:

Iowa State University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Wayne Morgan has been relieved of his duties after three years with the Cyclones. Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard made the announcement Friday morning.

“We have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program. That change is effective immediately,” said Pollard, who along with Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy met with Morgan Thursday evening. “During the past six months, I have had the opportunity to fully assess the overall direction of the men’s basketball program, and I do not believe our current coaching staff can sustain the level of performance required for our athletic program to achieve its goals.”

Pollard said that the Cyclones have one of the best fan bases in the Big 12, a strong reputation in the sport and the department has made significant investments in the program. For those reasons, he says that men’s basketball needs to be a marquee sport at Iowa State.

Morgan compiled a 55-39 overall mark at Iowa State, including a 22-26 ledger in Big 12 play. His 2004 team made the NIT semifinals and the 2005 edition reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State failed to reach post-season play this year despite being ranked No. 25 nationally in the pre-season poll.

“The fact that we didn’t advance to the NCAA or NIT this season certainly contributed to our decision to make a change, but it clearly was not the only reason for our decision,” Pollard said. “The expectation that we have for our sports programs at Iowa State University are far greater than a single won-loss record or lack of appearance in post-season play.”

Pollard also emphasized that recent concerns regarding the scheduling practices of men’s basketball games were not the reason for the change, but “the negative national publicity contributed to the timing of the decision.”

Pollard said that no state tax dollars or public funds will be used to pay the remaining obligations to Coach Morgan and his staff as a result of this change. The funds for the payments will come from an operating reserve the department has accumulated in the last decade.

A national search for ISU’s next men’s basketball coach begins immediately.