Chancellor's notes: Snyder's resignation was topic last year

Thursday, March 2, 2006

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Former Missouri basketball coach Quin Snyder was first encouraged by athletics director Mike Alden to consider a midseason resignation more than a year ago, according to notes from Chancellor Brady Deaton's recently concluded internal investigation.

And before what would become Snyder's final season at Missouri, Deaton and Alden in October rejected the coach's request for a public show of support and a commitment to honor his contract through 2008, Deaton's Feb. 21 notes show.

The Associated Press obtained the notes Wednesday through a public records request.

What Deaton's investigation doesn't clarify, though, is the role played by Tiger broadcaster Gary Link, a special assistant to Alden whom Snyder said delivered an ultimatum to the coach on Feb. 9, hours after Snyder told reporters he would finish out the season.

Link told Deaton that he would not "divulge the contents" of his conversations with Snyder and Alden, citing confidentiality. However, Link did acknowledge serving as an intermediary between his boss and Snyder, with whom Alden acknowledged having a "close but tense" relationship.

"Quin, the team is not looking good," Link told Snyder, according to Deaton's notes. "We know how the book is going to end. The question is how do we write the last chapter."

According to Link and Alden, Snyder replied: "I think I am better off resigning." He left with six regular season games remaining.

Snyder's job security was in jeopardy as early as Feb. 8, 2005, when Alden said publicly he would retain the coach through the 2005-06 season. At the same time, Alden told Snyder he needed a winning season, a finish in the top half of the Big 12 Conference and an NCAA tournament appearance to avoid losing his job, Deaton's report said.

Alden also suggested then that Snyder might want to resign in the middle of this year "if he felt that the season were going south," Deaton reported.

In return, "Quin was told that we would do the best we could to see that he would not be hurt financially."

Snyder officially left Missouri on Feb. 14 with a seven-year record of 126-91 that included NCAA tournament appearances his first four years. He received a $574,000 contract buyout that was approved by university curators. His total compensation package at Missouri, including incentives, was worth more than $1 million a season.

The chancellor's report describes a second conversation between Link and Snyder on Feb. 9, this time after practice. Joined by his attorney, Wally Bley, Snyder said he planned to resign but had not worked out the details.

Only then was Alden told of Snyder's intention, Deaton reported. Alden then placed three calls to Snyder that were not returned.

Alden told Deaton that he and Snyder spoke "periodically" throughout the season. Link, on the other hand, said he spoke with Snyder daily.

Link said he also made it clear to Snyder before this season began that resigning early was an option the coach should consider.

Snyder and Alden first spoke at 4:08 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10 -- more than 90 minutes after the coach revealed his resignation to reporters and his players.

"Gary came by and made it perfectly clear," Snyder reportedly told Alden. "Let's just let our attorneys work it out."

Link, who has declined to publicly discuss his role in Snyder's resignation, told Deaton that Snyder's firing after this season was a certainty, given the team's poor performance. Missouri (11-15) is 4-11 in the Big 12 and sits in next-to-last place with one regular season game remaining.

Snyder's team lost its last six games under his watch by double digits, including a 26-point thrashing by last-place Baylor two days before Link and Snyder's fateful courtside conversation.

"We knew it was over," Link told Deaton.

Alden, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, has said he sent Link only to see how Snyder was doing and whether he wanted to keep coaching.

Link also offered support for Alden, who has come under fire for his handling of Snyder's resignation, and defended his own involvement.

"Everything that I have done has only been in the best interests of the university," Link told Deaton.

Deaton, who conducted the investigation at the request of University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd, did not speak with Snyder. The coach told reporters at his farewell news conference that he would not cooperate with the investigation.

However, Bley said this week that he expects Snyder to participate in a second, external inquiry ordered by Floyd after several university curators criticized Deaton's report -- which he delivered orally to Floyd two days after receiving the assignment -- as insufficient.

Deaton's report didn't delve into Snyder's allegation that Link told him the decision to fire the coach had the support of Alden, Deaton, Floyd and an unnamed curator.

Deaton told Floyd that he did not address the "endorsement issue" in his report because Snyder's charge came at a news conference the previous day.

The independent inquiry by Kansas City attorney Jean Paul Bradshaw II and Lebanon Daily Record publisher Dalton Wright began Monday and is expected to be complete within several weeks.

The inquiry was immediately preceded by a prominent booster's request that his family's name be removed from the team's practice gym unless the university launched a further investigation.

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