|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
"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."
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.