Less than a week after UALR’s season came to an end with a loss to South Alabama in the Sun Belt tournament, athletic director Chasse Conque has decided that the basketball program is in need of a new leader.
According to Troy Schulte of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Conque and Shields met Wednesday morning with the athletic director making his decision public a few hours later. In 12 seasons at the helm Shields led the Trojans to 192 wins, and in 2011 the team won the Sun Belt tournament and earned the conference’s NCAA tournament berth as a result.
“I want to thank Steve for all he has done for this program, including being a mentor and leader to our student-athletes,” Conque said in a statement.
“He held his players accountable, and his team’s academic achievements are something we are very proud of. This was a tough decision, but one that I felt was best for our program at this time.”
UALR has finished below .500 in three of the last four seasons. This year’s team finished with a record of 13-18, and 12 of the 15 players on the roster are upperclassmen (two seniors and ten juniors). Just one of the top five scorers, guard Ben Dillard, was a senior with the other four all being juniors.
Given the amount of experience on the roster this was a disappointing season for UALR, which was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt in the preseason poll. The 2015-16 season was the final year on Shields’ contract according to the Democrat-Gazette.