Collen Saga May Not be Complete (with Sidebar)

One of Colorado State's most successful athletic programs was thrown into a state of confusion this week by the sudden resignation of Women's Basketball Coach Tom Collen. The situation was further complicated when Collen resigned his new post at Vanderbilt after just one day on the job, following the disclosure of some minor inaccuracies on his resume.

Immediately upon Collen's forced resignation at Vandy, a movement developed in Fort Collins to bring him back to CSU. This is where things get sticky.

AD Jeff Hathaway's Statement on Tom Collen:
"The entire department of athletics appreciates Tom's hard work and dedication. However, we believe it is in the best interest of the student-athletes, the future of our program, and all parties involved to continue to seek a new head women's basketball coach.
"I want to express my gratitude, that of the department, and by extension, the entire university to Tom and wife Nicki for their role in building our successful women's basketball program. We wish them the very best in all of their future endeavors."
On one hand, you have Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway making it clear in published statements that he has no plans to bring Collen back. On the other hand, you have the Ram players and community basketball backers pushing for Collen's return.

The Insiders has learned that the seven CSU seniors-to-be for next year's squad recently went to Hathaway to ask him to bring Collen back to Ft. Collins. A "groundswell" of support for Collen has developed in the CSU "basketball community," where the coach's unprecedented success has not gone unnoticed.

But sources say that Collen's move to Vanderbilt angered Hathaway and CSU President Albert Yates. Collen and Hathaway were in the midst of negotiations on a new contract when the coach abruptly announced he was leaving for the SEC without giving CSU a chance to improve it's standing offer. It's also being said that even before this development, Collen had strained relations with several members of the CSU athletic department, including former AD Tim Weiser.

Speculation as to Collen's replacement – assuming Hathaway sticks to his guns and does not rehire the coach – is already focusing on the coaching staff of National Champion U Conn, where Hathaway was an administrator before accepting the CSU job last summer. There are some who feel that the new AD will turn back to people he knows and trusts with this opportunity to make his first high-profile hire.

Whoever gets the job will inherit a team that will be heavily favored to repeat as Mountain West Conference Champions in 2002-03.

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