Weaver Put In Charge Of Basketball Team

Auburn, Ala.--Assistant head coach Shannon Weaver will run the day to day operations of the Auburn basketball program until a replacement is named for Cliff Ellis.

After 10 years as head coach of the Tigers, Ellis was fired on Thursday by interim president Dr. Ed Richardson. Ellis ended his Auburn tenure with a record of 186-125. His teams were 73-87 in SEC games and made seven postseason appearances, including two trips to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, one to the NCAA second round and four NIT trips.

Associate athletic director Hal Baird asked Weaver to assume the additional duties on Thursday and Weaver agreed to the request. Ellis and Baird both addressed the Auburn team on Thursday afternoon at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

"Coach Ellis probably met with them for 15 or 20 minutes and Coach Baird spoke and then we met another 15 or 20 minutes," Weaver said. "It was probably a total of 45 minutes."

Weaver said that he and assistant coaches Charlton Young, Tracy Dildy and Jacob Ridenhour will continue their duties, including recruiting. Auburn has two signees for the early period, guards Tony Douglas from Jonesboro, Ga., and guard/forward Willie Frank Tolbert from Red Level High.

"Coach Ellis talked to Tony Douglas and his dad today and to Willie Frank Tolbert and his dad today and Coach Ellis is still for Auburn," Weaver said. "We are for Auburn. While we are at Auburn, we are going to do the best we can for Auburn.

"We are still recruiting for the spring," Weaver added. "I am sure we wouldn't sign anybody, but will try to keep every option open and convince kids who are on our recruiting list to wait and see and keep them still available for Auburn."

Auburn completed a disappointing season with a 14-14 record after losing 73-59 to Georgia in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. Whoever takes over the team will have all five starters returning as long as there are no defections.

Weaver says he will encourage the players to stay with the program. "They are upset," he said. "They didn't see this coming, but they are handling it like grown men like we would want them to."

Shannon Weaver (seated right) is taking over for Cliff Ellis.

Weaver noted that he and Ellis didn't know until Thursday morning that Richardson was firing the coach. That was when Richardson told Ellis he was out during their meeting at Samford Hall.

"It's been an emotional day," Weaver said. "Cliff Ellis, obviously, is my mentor. He has been like a father to me. This probably the most difficult professional day you can ever have. We met with the players this afternoon and reiterated that our goal and our function as assistant coaches is to make sure they are taken care of and that is what we are going to do.

"Auburn is paying us and giving us the charge of making sure they get every opportunity to continue to be successful and that is what we are going to do," said Weaver, who joined the AU staff in 1997. "I told them to take care of themselves, to concentrate on their academics and to keep improving their game and then we will go from there."

Weaver said the news about the firing has been hard on the coaching staff. "Obviously, it is a sad day," he said. "Cliff Ellis loved Auburn and loved being at Auburn. We are a very close family. It goes beyond just what is on the court. Our families are all very close."

Weaver said the team meeting was very emotional. "Those are his kids. He reiterated the things that he has always said to them about what is important in life and what is important to being successful. He got a chance to tell them once again how he felt about them and he told them this not where their relationship ends. They will always be a part of his family. It was very emotional and very personal between him and his players."


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