Evans Era Officially Ends

The writing may have been on the wall for a while, but that didn't make Lisa Love's task any easier. ASU's Vice President for University Athletics met with the Sun Devils' head basketball coach Friday morning, and informed him that he will not continue at the helm of the program. According to Love, there were many factors that caused her to arrive at this decision.

"This morning at 9:30 I met with our Men's Basketball Coach Rob Evans and indicated that we would be changing leadership at our head Basketball coaching position," said Love in her opening statement at her press conference. "It was a very productive meeting. My perspective on the meeting is that I was talking to a humanitarian, a good leader of young men, a wonderful professional and a great competitor. The dialogue that we exchanged for 45-50 minutes was valuable to me in our information exchange as we talked about the whole issue."

Love stated that her evaluation of the basketball program, who finished 11-17 overall, 5-13 in Pac-10 play, was a season long one, as well as an examination of Evans' "body of work for the last eight years," and decided as a result of those factors that it was important for the school to make a change. Love said that she was cognizant of the fact the Sun Devils sported a young squad this past season, and claimed that her decision came down to comprehensive evaluation of the entire year. She added that no one particular game or criteria solidified her decision.

"I've read a lot of what you (the media) have written regarding Arizona State basketball, what we can do, where we're headed and what our past is," said Love. "I have a great belief that we can play great basketball. One of the most exciting events in all sports in the United States is about to take place, with the March Madness tournament, and I would like very much for Arizona State as a goal to have a presence in that exciting event on a more frequent bases than three times in the last 25 years."

"I believe we can do more at Wells Fargo Arena," Love continued, "with attendance, enthusiasm…I'm very reminded that we had 8,000 student season ticket buyers – an all- time record in the sport of football. We are the largest campus in the country…and I cannot believe that with the kind of numbers and muscle that Arizona State can offer, that we can't rock Wells Fargo Arena in basketball. I'm resolute that we can be very successful in that endeavor."

Love commented that the hiring of a new coach will be part of a bigger plan to provide a better program for the school and its followers, which will consequently draw more interest and spectators. "If we provide the product – they will be there," Love stated. "Men's collegiate basketball is a kick – it's too much fun. I believe the valley will support a great collegiate basketball program. I would be hard pressed to believe otherwise. It's our obligation to give the valley that product."

A full-scale national search for a successor will begin immediately, according to Love. "As fast as we can go, as hard as we can go to land the person that I believe we can live this dream with at Arizona State," she said. Love stated that she hasn't began contacting potential candidates, but added that this process will start immediately following her press conference. Love remarked that there was no timetable for her decision, and while she intends to move "expeditiously" there's not set timetable for her decision. "I'm well aware that tournament is soon to be under way and we have to respectful of the dynamics it creates."

In response to a question of waiting until the end of the NCAA tournament to name a coach, Love replied that the course of the search over time would dictate if that approach will be taken or not. "You'd have to know that you're going to succeed," she explained. "That's a critical point. How long am I willing to wait? Depends to a certain degree to how the search bobs and weaves." On the other hand, she admitted that waiting until the end of the NBA season is probably unlikely in terms of a potential timetable for a hire. Furthermore, Internal staff will partner with Love in this search, and search firms could come into play when it comes to the information gathering phase, which according to Love they can do in a very timely and thorough manner.

Love commented that successful pedigree will be one the guiding criterias for naming a successor, since it demonstrates success at coaching at the NCAA tournament. She admitted that in her profession there's always some matter of contingency in case a personnel move such as the one that took place today occurs. "There is a starting point, yes," she admitted. "We have a list of candidates and I would be naïve if I did not." Furthermore, she remarked that Evans' assistants could potentially be part of the list of candidates – "Anybody is welcome to throw their hat in the ring."

Coach Evans addressed the team less than an hour after the press conference began, and Love stated that she will meet with the squad following the school's weeklong spring break which begins on Monday. She would not speculate if some players wouldn't be back as a result of Evans' dismissal. "I can't speak to that until I talk to the players," she said. "Arizona State is a wonderful University and it's a great opportunity to make a difference in our basketball program. I hope 100% of those men come back and represent us on the court next year. I was very impressed with their stalwartness and the kind of character they exhibited for themselves, for the sake of their coach and for the university."

Financial wherewithal will naturally come into play in the search for the Devils' new skipper. The buyout of Evans and his assistants is close to one million dollars, and that same amount would likely have to be paid annually for the new head coach alone. "I'll cross that bridge as I come to it," Love said in regards to funds available for the future hire. "All I can say is that we'll see what the pool of candidates yield and I intend to be as aggressive as I can be."

A new coach for the Sun Devils, will be part of a new assertive approach to update all aspects concerning the basketball program. The days of practicing at local high schools due to lack of training space, could soon be a thing of the past. "We intend to solve aggressively any kind of hurdles or problems that present themselves for us not being extremely successful," Love stated. "Whether it's having to practice off-campus during graduation or anything to that fact…we look at what steps we need to take to make the right environment to make this a destination university for men's basketball."

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