And there was much rejoicing…
Just when we had all written off the 2011-2012 men’s basketball season…
EMU Athletic Director Derrick Gragg announced this morning that Charles Ramsey has been “released from his contract”—fired—and that the search for a new head coach will begin immediately. Ramsey will be paid $176,416 for the year remaining on his contract.
Gragg had the following to say on the matter:
After thorough and extensive review, I have determined that it is in the best interests of the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball program to change direction. Charles Ramsey has worked hard and had some accomplishments along the way, particularly in the academic success rates of our student athletes. He has many strong qualities and we wish him success in his future.
There is no question that as we look forward, we do so with a focus on maintaining the proud tradition of EMU athletics, and restoring our men’s basketball program to the level of success achieved during the mid-1990s with our 1990-91 MAC Championship and NCAA ‘Sweet 16’ title run, our NCAA appearance and win over Duke in 1995-96 and a third NCAA tournament appearance in 1997-98. Our outstanding facilities and strong support of student athletes provide an excellent foundation as we begin our search for a new head coach.
Let’s be honest about one thing. Ramsey’s tenure as EMU’s head men’s basketball coach can be considered nothing but a failure. His overall record of 68 wins and 118 losses puts him just 6 games over 0.333, which, for a six-year span, shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere, at any level of sports. A number of those wins—I don’t think it’s really worth the time to go back and count them all, but there were three in 2010-2011, out of nine total wins—were against non-Division I opponents, and as far as I’m concerned, those should be considered exhibition games only and not counted in his total record.
Given all this, there was only ever one reason not to fire Ramsey: money. Money is tight all around right now, and the university can ill afford to pay two people for the same position, even just for a year. A new head coach will almost certainly want to put their own assistant coaches in place, and buyouts for the current assistant coaches will compound the cost. After thinking it over, it appears that Gragg decided that the cost to EMU in tickets not sold and in reputation damaged would outweigh the one year of salary. I can’t comment on the monetary aspect, but I certainly won’t argue with the decision.
As for the timing, there were really three times that made sense for this, and Gragg waited for the last one. The first point at which it might have made sense was in mid-January, when a 0.500 season became impossible, but firing Ramsey at that point would have left him as a “lame duck” coach with half the season remaining. The second point was shortly after the season-ending loss at Akron in the first round of the MAC tournament. I think that might have been the ideal time for this action, because it would have allowed the search for the new coach to start that much sooner—although if I were in Gragg’s place, I would have quietly started a search at mid-season. The third and final point is the one Gragg chose, immediately after the conclusion of the college basketball season.
We’ll start speculating about the next head coach soon enough—feel free to get a head start in the comments—but in the meantime, let’s just be glad that the Charles Ramsey era at EMU is over!