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Considering the fact that the program has put together a record of five wins and 52 losses over the last two years, including an 0-28 mark in 2012-13, it would be an understatement to say that these have been tough times for the Grambling State basketball program. Add in the issues the program faced academically when head coach Joseph Price was hired, resulting in their being ineligible for postseason play last year, and it’s clear that a lot needed to change.
Tuesday it was reported by Sean Isabella of The News-Star that recently hired interim school president Cynthia Warrick has begun making changes, with Price and athletic director Aaron James being relieved of their respective duties as part of the shakeup.
“My primary focus as interim president is to move Grambling State University to a competitive position of excellence at every level,” Warrick said in the statement. “I have started the process of making several strategic changes in my administrative team, which is a customary practice in transitions such as this. The significant challenges facing Grambling make these decisions even more important, and I am committed to assembling the best talent possible in order to move the University forward.”
The question now is what’s next for the Grambling State basketball program, especially with the first of three July evaluation periods a week away (July 9-13). With regards to next season’s roster guards Terry Rose, Antwan Scott and A’Torri Shine, the team’s top three scorers in 2013-14, were all due to return in 2014-15.
Grambling State finished the 2013-14 season with a 5-24 record (3-15 SWAC), and they also knocked off Jackson State in the first round of the conference tournament. The 2013-14 academic year at Grambling State also included the football team forfeiting a game due to a player protest of various issues within the program.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.