Snyder steps down at MU

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Tigers' coach resigned amid a six-game losing streak; assistant takes over.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- One day after saying he planned to finish the season, Missouri coach Quin Snyder resigned Friday, ending a seven-year stint that began with high hopes but ended in disappointment.

Men's basketball sports information director Dave Reiter said Snyder announced the move to his team about 2 p.m. CST, before practice.

Associate head coach Melvin Watkins will coach Missouri (10-11) the remainder of the season, starting with a home game Sunday against Kansas State. Watkins was expected to discuss the move with reporters before a hastily rescheduled practice Friday evening.

"What he [Snyder] told us is, it's an opportunity to get back to playing basketball. All the speculation was a heavy burden," Reiter said.

Expectations were low for this season's team after Missouri went 16-17 last season and a 32-point neutral-court loss to Illinois dropped the record to 4-4. Missouri won six of its next seven, culminating in a nationally televised overtime win over archrival Kansas, but since then has lost six straight and fallen to 3-7 -- and next-to-last -- in the Big 12.

All six of those losses have been by double digits.

Still, Snyder told reporters before practice Thursday he had not been asked to resign and didn't plan to.

"I'm coaching my team, so I'm going to keep doing that until someone tells me not to, keep working as hard as I can," Snyder said at the time.

Snyder had two years remaining on a contract that paid him a base salary of $190,000. His total compensation package at Missouri was worth more than $1 million per season.

Snyder, who played at Duke and was an assistant to coach Mike Krzyzewski, was hired to replace the retiring Norm Stewart and take Missouri to national prominence. He had 20-win teams and NCAA bids in three of his first four seasons, including an appearance in the Elite Eight.

But the once-proud program is 42-42 since then and attendance has plummeted despite a new arena that opened last season.

The program has also been marred by scandal. In 2004, it was placed on NCAA probation for three years after more than a year of scrutiny focused on questionable activities surrounding former point guard Ricky Clemons. The school avoided a ban from postseason play but was prohibited from off-campus recruiting for one year.

Overall, Snyder was 126-91 at Missouri.

Watkins is in his second season with Missouri after six seasons as head coach at Texas A&M. Watkins, whose son Marcus Watkins is a reserve for the Tigers, also coached Charlotte to a 42-20 record from 1996-98, during which he had two NCAA tournament appearances.

Curiously, both Watkins and Snyder spoke to reporters about the team's struggles Thursday. It was believed that Snyder would miss practice with flu-like symptoms when Watkins met first with media.

"When you're in the coaching profession you know how some of these things can go," Watkins said Thursday. "I've been there."

Watkins' first order of business will likely include persuading frustrated players to stick it out. Junior guard Thomas Gardner, the leading scorer for Missouri and the Big 12 Conference at 20.2 points a game, said Thursday he may leave school early for the NBA after the season.

"My senior year I want to play for coach Snyder," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Friday's editions.

Sophomore point guard Jason Horton has also said he would play only for Snyder at Missouri.

But former team member Brian Dailey, who remains affiliated with the team as an unofficial graduate assistant, said the Tigers will persevere.

"It's hard," he said Friday after attending Snyder's announcement to the team. "It's all about Missouri basketball right now."

Kareem Rush of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, who played for Snyder at Missouri, said he was surprised to learn of Snyder's departure.

"Coach Q was a great coach when I was there, but he had a rocky last couple of years," Rush said. "It's unfortunate; he's a great coach, and I know he's going to bounce back some other place. But it was probably time for him to leave. A lot of people wanted him out of there."

Quin Snyder

* Coaching experience: Los Angeles Clippers, assistant coach, 1992-93; Duke, assistant coach, 1993-1997; Missouri, head coach, 1999-2006.

* Division I coaching record:

Overall NCAA Tourney
 W L Pct. W L Pct.
1999-00 Missouri 18 13 .581 0 1 .000
2000-01 Missouri 20 13 .606 1 1 .500
2001-02 Missouri 24 12 .667 3 1 .750
2002-03 Missouri 22 11 .667 1 1 .500
2003-04 Missouri 16 14 .533 - - -
2004-05 Missouri 16 17 .485 - - -
2005-06 Missouri 10 11 .476 - - -
Total 126 91 .581 54.556

2005-06 record is through games of Feb. 7.

* NCAA appearances: 2000, 2001, 2002 (regional finals), 2003

* NIT appearances: 2004, 2005

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