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College basketball

Two-year struggle costs Miami coach

By Wire services
Published March 27, 2004

CORAL GABLES - Perry Clark had consecutive losing seasons and very little support from boosters, a troubling combination Miami officials couldn't overlook.

So athletic director Paul Dee fired Clark on Friday despite having to pay him nearly $2.5-million for the final three years of a seven-year contract.

Dee waited nearly three weeks to decide Clark's fate after a 14-16 season in which the Hurricanes missed the Big East tournament. Dee spent the time getting input from boosters and weighing the financial ramifications of a change.

The private school recently built a $48-million oncampus basketball arena and must pay $3-million in fees to move from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference this fall.

"It's a disappointment for us all," Dee said.

After taking over a program former coach Leonard Hamilton led to the round of 16 in 2000, Clark led Miami to the postseason in his first two seasons. Miami made the NIT in 2001. The team went 24-8 the following season but lost as a No. 5 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Hurricanes have faded since.

Clark went 65-54 in four seasons but 25-33 the past two. The Hurricanes lost 10 in a row this season, the school's longest losing streak in a decade. And forward Darius Rice never developed beyond a perimeter shooter in four years after coming to Miami as a McDonald's High School All-American.

"I've never failed at anything in my life, so this is hard because there's a perceived failure with what I was trying to do," Clark said. "But there's no animosity."

KENTUCKY: Point guard Cliff Hawkins is sorry, and his ring is no longer for sale. Hawkins offered his 2003 Southeastern Conference championship ring on eBay on Tuesday. He withdrew it two days later after the bidding surpassed $3,000. "It was a mistake," Hawkins wrote on a fan Web site. "I don't know what I was thinking. ... In no way did I intend to offend or embarrass the great fans of Kentucky."

NAVY: Billy Lange, Villanova's assistant coach the past three seasons, will replace Don DeVoe as head coach. Lange, 32, was coach at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from 1999-2001 and led the Division III team to a 39-19 record.

SMU: Oklahoma assistant Jimmy Tubbs was hired as coach, returning to the school where he spent 12 seasons on the staff. He succeeds Mike Dement, who was fired Feb. 27 with three games left and a year on his contract.

WEST VIRGINIA: Freshmen Tyler Relph and Jerrah Young have decided to transfer at the end of the academic year. Coach John Beilein did not say where they would transfer.

[Last modified March 27, 2004, 02:10:29]

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