A disturbing trend

January, 11, 2010
1/11/10
12:01
PM ET
By the end of January 2009, two coaches -- Mark Gottfried at Alabama and Dennis Felton at Georgia -- had been giving their walking papers and coaches everywhere noted the disturbing trend in college hoops.

So where does that put this season? Two weeks before the anniversaries of Gottfried and Felton's departures, three coaches are out: Glen Miller at Penn, Dereck Whittenburg at Fordham and now Jerry Wainwright at DePaul (Dartmouth's Terry Dunn resigned).

None have been caught in any sort of scandal and none are employed by deep-pocketed state universities with football money to burn, yet all three universities decided they couldn't wait another two months.

It is really strange when you consider that none of them were very good last year. For reasons that are every bit as perplexing as their in-season dismissals are surprising, all three were retained.

What changed: angry boosters, transferring players and most of all mounting losses. Penn was winless when it let go of Miller and it's deep-pocketed alumni were staying away from the Palestra; Fordham was in the Atlantic 10 basement again and star player Jio Fontan decided to pull the plug on his time in the Bronx and DePaul, winless in the Big East regular-season last year, was starting on the same goose-egged foot.

Certainly losing is cause for dismissal in college athletics but firing a coach in season blurs the line between the college and professional game even more. Worse it sends a frightening message to the athletes and puts even more pressure on 18 to 22 year olds to win. And win now or else.

Firing coaches mid-season is more than a dangerous trend. As the numbers show from one January to the next, it's a growing trend.

Dana O'Neil | email

College Basketball

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