Monday, December 14, 2009
Penn parts ways with coach Miller
By Andy Katz ESPN.com
Pennsylvania coach Glen Miller was removed as head coach Monday morning and replaced by assistant and former player Jerome Allen, the team announced.
"This is not simply about the performance of the team this year," athletic director Steve Bilsky said, according to The Associated Press. "This really is about a sense of direction and leadership. Where we were at this point indicated it was time to make a change and this was the time to do it."
Allen, an NBA veteran drafted by the Timberwolves in the second round of the 1995 draft, joined the staff of the Quakers before the season.
He was a former Penn team captain and played on three NCAA tournament teams. He was on the 1994 team that beat Nebraska in the first round for the program's only NCAA victory since 1980.
Allen also spent two seasons in the NBA and played professionally in Europe.
The Quakers are 0-7, losing Saturday at Monmouth. Penn is the only winless team in the Ivy League.
Miller's ouster was first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News.
Bilsky made the move now because the Quakers don't play again until Dec. 28 at Davidson before a New Year's Eve game at No. 7 Duke.
"If a decision was going to be made during the season, and that's always a difficult task for a lot of reasons, this represents the best time," Bilsky said.
Miller, a former coach at Brown, took over for Fran Dunphy in 2006, leading the Quakers to the NCAA tournament's first round and a 13-1 Ivy League record. Penn was 22-9 overall that season. Since then, Penn went 13-18 (8-6 in the Ivy), 10-18 last season and 6-8 in the Ivy.
Penn went to nine NCAA tournaments during Dunphy's 17 seasons at Penn before his departure for Temple to replace the legendary John Chaney.
Allen led the Quakers in assists in three consecutive seasons from 1992-95. He led the Quakers to Ivy League titles in his last three seasons when Penn and Princeton were the dominant programs. Now Cornell is seeking its third-straight league title.
Penn's staff and players heard the news about Miller early Monday morning.
Before moving within the Ivy League to Penn, Miller coached for seven seasons at Brown, where he never advanced to the NCAA tournament but did make an NIT appearance.
Bilsky, who said he decided to fire Miller last week, said Penn basketball represented more than just another sport at the school. It was the lynchpin program that served as a community bonding activity and as an ambassador for the brainy university. Miller just couldn't win over enough fans -- at least the more vocal, unhappy ones -- or win enough games.
According to sources, Miller was never able to rekindle the folksy nature of Dunphy, who became a central figure within the Big Five.
"I would have liked to have seen a greater welcome for him, but I don't think it's a reason why we were successful or not successful," Bilsky said.
Losing games and not being as outgoing as Dunphy was, on and off campus, didn't help Miller's cause.
Still, firing a coach in December isn't the norm in college basketball. But it had already happened once this season.
Fordham let Dereck Whittenburg go last week after six-plus seasons. In years past, St. John's fired Mike Jarvis, Minnesota let go Dan Monson and USC got rid of Henry Bibby all before Jan. 1.
Last season, Alabama cut loose Mark Gottfried during the SEC season, and in the previous year LSU did the same to John Brady.
Meanwhile, Dunphy has flourished at Temple, leading it to consecutive NCAA tournaments in the last two seasons. Temple beat Villanova Sunday at home to go to 8-2 on the season.
Cornell's Steve Donahue, a former Penn assistant, had been a natural choice to replace Dunphy.
But with the Big Red's recent success it would make sense that if Donahue left Cornell, it would be outside the Ivy to a higher-paying job.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.