Nash fired as UH basketball coach
University of Hawai'I men's basketball head coach Bob Nash, who spent 31 years at UH as a player, assistant and head coach, was fired today, following three consecutive losing seasons and a last-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference.
“It's probably one of the toughest days of my career,” said UH Athletic Director Jim Donovan said to open today's press conference at Stan Sheriff Center. “Bob Nash is a tremendous man. I have the utmost respect for him, what he's done for this university as a player, as assistant coach and where his heart is for this program, but I'm announcing this morning that he will not retained next year as head coach.”
Donovan said he and Nash, who did not attend today's press conference, had discussions over the past 10 days, but "ultimately, didn't make the decision until this morning."
Donovan said a national search for a new coach will begin immediately.
During the press conference, Donovan said he asks his coaches to do six things — focus on the academics, comply with NCAA and state regulations, interact with community with public relations focus and help fund raise, recruit players with good character, be part of the UH team,and (have a good) won-lost record.
Donovan said Nash met five of the six standards, except the won-lost record,
“That’s the only category that hasn’t met our standards.”
In his three years as coach, Nash never had a winning record. He was 11-19 in the 2007-08 season, 13-17 in 2008-09 and 10-20 this past season.
"I could not foresee a 10-win season with the schedule (21 home games) that we went into this year," Donovan said, "and that’s why we’re making a change."
Donovan said he did offer Nash a position to help fund raise involving the expansion and refurbishment of Stan Sheriff Center.
"He (Nash) appreciated the offer and understood the decision and he said would move on," Donovan said.
Donovan said a buyout will be involved in Nash’s final year of a $240,000 annual contract. Donovan said he would “try to mitigate all costs to UH for the buyout.”
Donovan emphasized that Nash is "a class act."
"We are grateful for the way he represented the school and for the example he has set for our student athletes," Donovan said in a prepared statement.
"He may no longer be our coach, but he will forever be a Rainbow Warrior."
Donovan also said "Ultimately this comes to a business decision based on win-loss record, not Bob Nash's character, or how well he performed in other aspects of the program."
Donovan mentioned that at one of his first seminars he attended as an administrator, he was told by the presenter, “Don’t fall in love with the coaches, fall in love with the performances ... the reality is, it’s a business and we’re going to move forward.”
Nash completed his third season as head coach Saturday with a loss at Idaho as the Rainbow Warriors finished 10-20 (3-13 WAC) and did not qualify for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
In three seasons as head coach, Nash is 34-56.
Nash met with athletic director Jim Donovan last night upon his return to Honolulu and called a staff meeting with his assistants this morning.
Junior point guard Hiram Thompson, the only starter eligible to return next season, said he would have preferred to play for Nash.
“We have a good relationship and I know what to expect from him,” Thompson said. “There’s definitely a bright future for next year with the personnel we have coming in.”
The ’Bows endured a seemingly-endless number of injuries, illnesses and suspensions this season.
At the start of the season, there were 11 scholarship players on the roster. All 11 missed either practice or game time due to an injury, illness or suspension.
For Saturday's season finale at Idaho, Nash had just seven scholarship players available, and sophomore walk-on Leroy Lutu Jr. made the first start of his career.
"You would hope that something like that gets taken into consideration," Nash said after Saturday's loss. "But I don't know if that's enough. You always believe you can win, no matter what the circumstances."
Prior to becoming head coach, Nash served as an assistant for nearly 25 years, including 20 years as associate coach under Riley Wallace, whom he replaced in 2007. During those 20 years he helped guide UH to 16 winning seasons, including nine postseason appearances and three NCAA Tournaments bids.
A UH graduate, Nash played two seasons for UH (1970-71, 1971-72) and was an integral part of the “Fabulous Five” team that led UH to the National Invitation Tournament and its first NCAA berth.
The Fab Five — which consisted of Nash, Jerome Freeman, John Penebacker, Dwight Hoiiday and Al Davis — helped UH compile a 47-8 record.
Nash still holds the school record for rebounds in a game (30, against Arizona State in the Rainbow Classic) and single season (361). He also was UH’s first-ever All-American and the schoo's first NBA first-round draft pick in 1972.