Friday, March 19, 2004
Auburn fires Ellis following
10 seesaw seasons
AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn coach Cliff Ellis was fired Thursday after 10 up-and-down seasons with the Tigers, who were shut out of postseason play for the second time in three years.
Ellis is the second-winningest coach in Auburn basketball history. He was with his team longer than any other current coach in the Southeastern Conference.
"I am aware of the many accomplishments of coach Ellis in his tenure here," said Auburn interim president Ed Richardson, who met briefly with the coach. "I appreciate what he has done with the program. It is simply time for a change."
Ellis had five years remaining on his contract after it was automatically extended by two years for last season's Tournament run. Under his contract, Auburn owes him $750,000. Ellis pointed to his achievements - teams that "put us near the top of the SEC in terms of games won and trips to the NCAA Tournament. That is why this decision by the Auburn administration is so disappointing."
The coach had sent Richardson a letter outlining his plans to improve the program and reasons why he should be allowed to stay. But Richardson clearly had made up his mind to seek another coach before meeting with him Thursday.
UTAH: Of all of Utah's trips to the NCAA Tournament, Rick Majerus had to miss this one.
The Utes are playing in Milwaukee, Majerus' hometown and a city where he's still adored.
But the 11th-seeded Utes will have to manage without their ultimate tour guide this week. Heart problems forced Majerus out of basketball in January, and he'll be hundreds of miles away when Utah takes on Boston College, the sixth seed, this afternoon.
PURDUE: A long, frustrating season for Purdue finally came to an end with a loss to Notre Dame in the NIT, and the questions are just beginning.
The Boilermakers lost their last five games and 10 of their final 13 to close a season that began with much promise. The stumbling finish has only increased speculation about whether Gene Keady has coached his last game at Purdue.
Keady, who wrapped up his 24th season as coach at Purdue, has one year left on his contract.
Keady refused to discuss his future after the Boilermakers (17-14) lost to Notre Dame 71-59 Wednesday night.
POWER OUTAGE: A power problem Thursday morning threatened to push back the start of opening-round games at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. The first game, between Texas Tech and Charlotte, began as scheduled at 12:25 p.m.
"A breaker went but there is no problem," arena spokesman Mike Gilbert said. "There was no signs of sabotage and everything is normal."
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