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After serving as the interim head coach for the final five games of the season, Lamar Director of Athletics Jason Henderson removed the interim tag from head coach Tic Price on Tuesday afternoon.
Price took over the program after Pat Knight, son of the Hall of Fame coach, was fired after two-plus seasons.
“This is a great job,” Price said in a statement. “From a recruiting standpoint, we are in a great location — within a 250 mile radius you can find talented players. From an academic standpoint, Lamar can challenge any school in the country. We have some really good professors and an excellent administration. There is a sense of family here, and unless you are a part of Lamar you just won’t understand it.
“My family and I have grown to love the Beaumont area. We have met some wonderful people, are part of a wonderful church and this is a great place to live. I truly love this university. It has given me the opportunity to grow professionally as a coach and an administrator.”
This will be his fourth head coaching job after roaming the sidelines at the University of New Orleans (1994-1997), Memphis (1997-1999) and McNeese State (2001-2006). Price has compiled a combined 168-131 record in those three stints.
The Cardinals are 7-54 (4-32 Southland) in the last two seasons. Price was 1-4 as an interim coach.
After two-plus seasons at Lamar, head coach Pat Knight, son of the Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, was fired by the university on Sunday morning, according to a report from ESPN’s Andy Katz.
The Cardinals are 2-11 in the Southland Conference and lost to Northwestern State, 87-67, on Saturday; the team’s fourth straight defeat.
“I was told last night to meet with the president and the AD this morning at 10 a.m.,” Knight told Katz on Sunday afternoon after confirming the news. “I knew it. There’s no talk. They said they want to go in a different direction. We struggled for two years. It’s all based on the record. It’s part of the business.”
Pat Knight took over the program in 2011, and led the Cardinals to the 2012 NCAA Tournament in that first season, before losing to Vermont in a play-in game in Dayton. Knight made news late in that campaign when he went on an epic post-game rant following a 62-52 loss to Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 22.
During that press conference, he stated, this was “worst group of seniors right now that I’ve ever been associated with”. Following that outburst, the then-17-11 Cards won six straight games, including the Southland Conference tournament.
However, it has been downhill since that late-season run into the NCAA tournament. Lamar went 3-28 last season, and 25 games into this season the team had matched that dismal win total from the previous season with a 3-22 record. Knight took over for his father for final 11 games of the 2007-2008 season at Texas Tech after Bob Knight suddenly resigned. In three-plus seasons with the Red Raiders, Knight went 50-61.
Lamar, currently half a game out of last place in the Southland Conference, has five games remaining in the regular season. The Cardinals begin the post-Pat Knight era on Saturday at home against Sam Houston State.
The range of emotions that Lamar coach Pat Knight has felt toward his seniors has now reached both ends of the spectrum. After his late-February rant, calling out his seniors after its loss to Stephen F. Austin, Wednesday night’s press conference stuck a reflective note.
Lamar lost to Vermont, 71-59, in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday night, ending their season with a 23-12 record, 11-5 in the Southland Conference.
Watch Coach Knight below talk about the seniors on his team, which he calls the “Under the Bus Gang”.
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Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_