Friday, July 9, 2004

Fan feelings range from hurt to hope

By Shannon Russell
Enquirer staff writer

On the day Sean Miller was named Xavier's new head basketball coach, fans expressed frustration, bewilderment and resentment toward exiting coach Thad Matta.

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Matta's departure upset Ken Akers so much, he got out his punching bag.

Akers, 19, a Xavier sophomore, attended all but two Musketeers games last season with a group of friends who painted themselves blue. Akers also shaved his head before painting a white "X" on it.

He said Matta "lied to us" about his meetings with Ohio State officials and said Matta was "bought out" by the Buckeyes. Xavier's student body deserved more than a cavalier goodbye, Akers said.

"I put a whole lot of faith in other people, so I felt very betrayed," Akers said.

Maineville resident Bill Marsh said it's understandable for Matta to want to further his career. But not after neglecting to tell the Xavier community about his plans.

"It doesn't sit very well with me that he interviewed (with Ohio State) when he said he was in no way considering it," said Marsh, who owns a house on Xavier's campus and sent a son to school there.

"Let me put it this way: I wouldn't vote for him next year."

Janet Tedeschi, a 1992 Xavier graduate and season-ticket holder, said Matta's abrupt resignation hurt the university's chances for a more thorough replacement search. Though she has no grudges against new coach Sean Miller, she said poor timing put Xavier "at a disadvantage of getting the optimal coach."

"I'm pretty unhappy," Tedeschi said. "I don't think (Matta's) intention was to stay very long in the first place. I think he intended to use Xavier as a steppingstone."

Antonio Garcia, 21, a Xavier pre-med major, said a friend suspected Matta would be leaving for Ohio State after the position came open. Garcia said he didn't believe it.

The more he thought about it, the less he was surprised about the change. As intense and liked as Matta was, Garcia figured he would eventually be part of the legacy of coaches seeking bigger schools and heftier paychecks. There are perks at Xavier that can't be equaled at a school in Columbus, Garcia said.

"Now (Matta) will be overshadowed. He'll be second to football," Garcia said. "Here, he was king."

George Miller of Avondale is transferring his faith in the Muskies to Miller. Regardless of coaching personnel, he thinks Xavier can be a strong presence in the NCAA Tournament.

"Just because the coach is leaving doesn't mean the players are," said Miller, whose wife, Michele, is a Xavier alumna. "I think we'll go even further in the Tournament."


'A no-brainer': Xavier makes Miller its coach
All done in a day's work
Matta wavered on big decision
All-time XU coaches
Division I coaching changes
Fan feelings range from hurt to hope
Matta always on Geiger's 'A' list
'We were disappointed'
Matta apologizes for comments

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