Friday, February 8, 2008

John Brady Out as LSU Head Coach


John Brady's tenure as the LSU men's basketball head coach is over, two university board members have confirmed.
With nine games left in the regular season of his 11th at LSU, the 53-year-old Brady was fired Thursday after a meeting with Athletic Director Skip Bertman.
The university has called a press conference for 1 p.m. today to announce the change.
LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman Jerry Shea of New Iberia said he learned of the termination on Thursday and said the change has been a possibility.
"I wish Coach Brady the best in his future endeavors," Shea said. "I con-sider John a good friend. But I think it was time for a change."
Shea said the decision to make a change now rather than at the end of the season was Bertman's call. Shea denied speculation that newly appointed LSU system president Dr. John Lombardi is calling all the shots because Bertman is on his way out as well.
"I think the athletics director is most involved," Shea said. "This has been under consideration before Dr. Lombardi got here (in September), and Skip has been watching the situation."
Shea said he believes Lombardi supports the decision.
Lombardi spokesman Charles Zewe said in an e-mail that Lombardi does not plan to comment on the matter nor take part in today's news conference.
Longtime associate head coach Butch Pierre will lead the Tigers the rest of the season. It's not clear whether Brady will coach LSU against No. 7-ranked Tennessee at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Although the end arrived abruptly, it was not a major surprise considering the current state of a program that 23 months ago stunned the college basketball world on its way to the 2006 Final Four.
The Tigers now languish at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference with an 8-13 record (1-6 in league games) after sputtering to a 17-15 finish last season. LSU has lost 17 of its last 23 SEC games and is 20-25 since beginning the 2006-07 campaign with an 11-3 record that included noteworthy victories against nationally ranked opponents Texas A&M and Connecticut.
Friday's announcement ends a sporadically successful and often controversial era in LSU basketball.
Under Brady's watch, the Tigers won two SEC championships (2000, 2006), advanced to the NCAA tournament four times and had a Sweet 16 appearance in 2000 to bookend the Final Four run.
Intermingled in the successful years were three losing seasons and last year's precipitous fall from grace.
LSU has gone 2-14 in SEC games twice under Brady and 4-12 once, finish-ing last in the SEC West each time. The Tigers were last in the West again last year and are headed down a similar path this season.
The early stages of Brady's LSU career were severely handicapped by NCAA sanctions imposed as a result of actions during the final years of Dale Brown's tenure. But the Tigers persevered by storming to the Sweet 16 in 2000 behind Swift, the No. 2 pick in that year's NBA Draft.
LSU Board of Supervisors member and Brady supporter Charles Weems of Alexandria called Friday a "sad day" for LSU.
"It's always a sad day when something like this happens," said Weems, who said he was not in on the decision. "He's a great guy and a great coach.
"I'm still a strong supporter of his, and I know John has given his best. Eleven years is a long time. I'll never forget that great run in 2006 going to the Final Four. That's the way I'm going to remember him."
Wins and losses may be a big part of Brady's ouster, but impossible-to-ignore intangibles also played a major part.
Player attrition has plagued Brady's tenure the time he arrived in 1997.
Nearly 40 players who either enrolled at LSU or wore a Tigers uniform left before their eligibility was exhausted. A handful of those players left to enter the NBA Draft: Stromile Swift, Brandon Bass, Tyrus Thomas and Glen Davis.
But the bulk of the bleeding was not due to players pursuing an NBA career.
Largely as a result of the attrition, only 13 players have graduated during Brady's tenure, with two more on track to earn a degree over the next few semesters.
Brady's relationship with LSU fans has also been a point of contention. His sometimes bombastic coaching style on the bench has been criticized, as has the Tigers' grind-it-out tendency at times on the court.
He has also taken not-so-veiled shots at LSU fans when game attendance has dwindled, a common occurrence throughout Brady's tenure.
The Tigers' average attendance this season is 8,240 - which ranks ninth in the SEC and is a number based on tickets sold. In reality, the crowds have been in the 4,000 to 5,000 range at the 13,215-seat Pete Maravich Assembly Center. LSU has sold out only once in the past four years.
Firing Brady will be costly. He has three years remaining on a five-year contract he signed after the Final Four season. LSU will be responsible for paying Brady's base salary for each of the three remaining seasons, a fig-ure that will be in the $900,000 to $1 million range because of escalating salary clauses in the contract.
WBRZ's Michael Cauble contributed to this report.
John Brady's Record at LSU
Year
W-L
SEC W-L
SEC West
Postseason
'97-98
9-18
2-14
6th

98-99
12-15
4-12
6th

99-00
28-6
12-4
1st-SEC
NCAA Sweet16
00-01
13-16
2-14
6th West

01-02
19-15
6-10
4th West
NIT 2nd round
02-03
21-11
8-8
2nd West
NCAA first round
03-04
18-11
8-8
2nd West
NIT first round
04-05
20-10
12-4
tie-1st West
NCAA first round
05-06
27-9
14-2
1st SEC
NCAA Final Four
06-07
17-15
5-11
6th West

07-08
8-13
1-6
6th West

Records: 192-139 (69-93 SEC) at LSU; 281-211 career

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