Pollard Q&A

Jamie Pollard held a press conference Friday morning announcing that Wayne Morgan has been fired as Iowa State's basketball coach. Here is the Q&A portion of the press conference transcribed from start to finish.

 

Q: What do you look for in a new coach or in a coaching staff to get you to that high level?

 

Pollard: We are going to begin an immediate national search and we will find the best possible coach for Iowa State. Today I prefer not to get into specifics of what we will look for because today is about the announcement of the change.

 

Q: How did you let the players on the team know about your decision?

 

Pollard: Bill Smith, our senior associate athletic director has been in the process of contacting or leaving messages with all of our current student athletes or recruits. Being on Spring Break, it's a little bit of a challenge because most of our athletes are not here. In addition, I sent out personal e-mails this morning in addition to the statement that I just read, as well as another message to our student athletes about how difficult of a situation this really is. I can tell you that the conversations that Bill Smith had with several of our student athletes and the parents of several of our recruits that it is a difficult situation for them to have to experience, but at the same time they also are anxious to have the opportunity to sit down with the coach that we will bring in. Several of the commits parents told us that they committed to Iowa State University and they still see their sons playing at Iowa State. I also will mention that Bill Smith, at my request talked to Tasheed Carr and extended the opportunity to stay if he chooses and I believe he appreciated that offer and he too said that he also would like the opportunity to meet with the new coaches when they are hired. He also indicated that he needed to keep his options open and I fully respect that.

 

Q: What about Curtis and Will?

 

Pollard: Neither individual has been contacted. He has left messages but has been unable to reach them.

 

Q: Was the negative publicity this week the final straw?

 

Pollard: As I mentioned in my statement, there were a lot of factors in this decision prior to the situation this week that the president and I were having discussions about whether or not we needed to make a change. The fact that the situation came about is not the reason, because we still believe that there are no NCAA violations by Iowa State, there wasn't anything illegally done by Iowa State. None of our staff including our coaches intentionally entered anything that was inappropriate. It did a lot to damage the momentum of this basketball program.

 

Q: So when was this decision made?

 

Pollard: The ultimate decision was made, I'm losing track of days because the last few days have been a blur, it was made on Wednesday.

 

Q: Before this weekend, did you have doubts that Wayne Morgan was the guy to lead this program.

 

Pollard: Yes.

 

Q: Did Stinson and Blalock leaving have anything to do with it?

 

Pollard: It really did not. I sure was a coincidence. You'd have to talk to them about why they decided to make their announcement when they did. As for Iowa State University, we're disappointed. We certainly welcome them back here. But their decision was made independent of this decision and our decision was made independent of their decision.

 

Q: Have you talked to either of them at any point this week?

 

Pollard: I have not.

 

Q: When Wayne took over this program was in disarray, was this decision based just on this year?

 

Pollard: First of all I wasn't here for the previous, two years so it's tough for me to comment on those years. Our men's basketball program, as I mentioned has to be a catalyst. We can't get where we need to get to if our men's basketball program isn't operating at the very best in the Big 12. As the leader I have to assess in the six months that I was here if this program would be better off in a couple of years with Wayne Morgan as the leader or with a different individual. I had to draw upon my own observation, my professional experience of dealing with several outstanding basketball coaches, and two outstanding athletic programs and I also had to judge what was in the best interest of Iowa State.

 

I sincerely mean it when I said that this decision was a very difficult challenge. Not often do people have to sit across from somebody and tell them and look them in the eye that they want to make this type of decision. I understand the human side of this. But I also understand that when I decided to become athletic director, I accepted this responsibility. I can't run from it. I'm doing a disservice to Iowa State if I accept anything less than what I think is in the best interest of this institution no matter how difficult and how challenging it is to make that call.

 

Q: How would you characterize Wayne Morgan's performance since he's been here?

 

Pollard: I can't speak for the first two years. I will speak to the year that I've been here that I don't' believe that I see the trends of a basketball program that can compete on an annual basis for Big 12 Championships and put itself in the NCAA tournament. I don't see the foundation there that has the ability to annually do that.

 

Q: Why wasn't the decision made sooner say on Monday, what was going on during those three days?

 

Pollard: It's a challenging decision. It impacts people's lives. It impacts the institution. I get e-mails all of the time, probably 50 or 60 a day that want to tell me how I should run this department. I would bet that 99% of those e-mails are from people who have never had to sit across from someone and look them in the eye and tell them that I'm making a change. That's not an easy thing to do. You don't make those decisions lightly. It's tough, it's tough.

 

Q: Wayne's reaction was?

 

Pollard: Wayne's reaction was how you'd expect it to be. He was very disappointed and he believes that he does have the traits. He believes that he had the program going in the right direction. I respect him for that, he's a competitor. We have to agree to disagree.

 

Q: You said earlier that you don't believe that Iowa State committed an NCAA violation. Have you been contacted yet by the NCAA?

 

Pollard: Yes we are confident, based on what we know that there are no NCAA violations for Iowa State and that Iowa State didn't do anything inappropriately or illegally. No we haven't been contacted by the NCAA.

 

This program needs stability. This program has had two coaches leave in the past four years. We've got to get it right and I have that responsibility. I will be judged by whether I can handle that responsibility and I respect that.

 

Q: Will the settlement be shared with the public?

 

Pollard: We have agreed to honor the remaining two year's of Coach Morgan's contract. The attorney's are working through it. There are issues such as benefits, health insurance but we have chosen that we will honor the last two year's of his contract. We also want to make this transition as easy as possible on the assistants. We will work to try and help them as best we can to help them transition to another stop. The remaining amount of money on his contract is 1.5 million dollars.


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