Woolard Backs Coach McCullum

(March 1, 2006) It's unusual that we find ourselves addressing an issue of this nature at a time when our student-athletes and coaches are trying to stay positive and focused prior to the final conference home stand, concluding a difficult season full of unique and unprecedented adversities.

To put to rest any ambiguity that may have been caused by reports and innuendos directed toward our men's basketball coach, it is important to set the record straight so our student-athletes and coaches can focus on the task at hand.

It has been our practice to thoroughly evaluate programs following the conclusion of their season to objectively review the full body of work. We realize speculation of the nature that surrounds our men's basketball program is common today. Nonetheless, the resulting scenario is unfortunate, unfounded and irresponsible. Our student-athletes, coaches and true supporters deserve better than this.

We knew our inaugural season in the Big East would be quite a challenge even before several circumstances beyond the control of the coach exacerbated that challenge. The best returning three point shooter Marius Prekevicius left one week before school started to join a professional team in Europe, leaving no time to sign a new recruit. Bradley Mosley, the second leading scorer from 2003-04, passed away in October after a year-long battle with cancer. Probable starting point guard and promising freshman Chris Howard tore an ACL before the season started and missed the entire year. Zaronn Cann, another talented freshman, played in four games before re-injuring a knee and was forced to redshirt.

Regardless of these circumstances, the team has remained competitive throughout the Big East season and the program appears to have a good mix of experienced veterans and talented newcomers next year.

We are making a break from our normal evaluation procedure to clear the cloud of negativity imposed on this program and its student-athletes so they can continue building this program to levels we expect. Robert McCullum will remain our head men's basketball coach next season.

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