Former Iowa State men’s basketball coach Wayne Morgan spoke with the media today for the first time since he was fired last Thursday.
Rumors have circulated since Morgan’s firing that Iowa State’s use of a program called D-1 Scheduling to set up non-conference games, and its link to recruit Anthony Davis, may’ve been the reason Morgan was fired.
Morgan was joined by most of his players as he spoke about his firing during the news conference in Ames. “I have known Anthony Davis since 1999 and we enjoy a strong and a special bond. He signed to play for me at Long Beach State when he came out of high school,” Morgan said. “His attendance at Iowa State has nothing to do with Division 1 scheduling.”
Morgan said Iowa State hired the company to “improve non-conferecne scheduling at a medium or below-medium rate of cost.” Morgan told reporters the use of D-1 scheduling was cleared by all appropriate administrators, and Morgan said no one did anything wrong in using the company.
Morgan, who is 55 years old, was an ISU assistant coach elevated to take the top job three years ago in the wake of a partying-on-the-road scandal involving former ISU coach Larry Eustachy. “I’ve have been a college basketball coach for 32 years. I have enjoyed an excellent reputation. I have worked hard to earn a respected name in my chosen profession. That will not change,” Morgan said Tuesday. “I look forward to having success in the future at the next place that I coach.”
Morgan told reporters he waited to talk because he didn’t want to be overly emotional. So what did he hope to accomplish by talking Tuesday? “I think that a perception that was negative was raised last week and the country ran with it,” Morgan said. “…Nothing wrong was done here.”
Iowa State went on a late-season skid and failed to make the NCAA or NIT tournament this year, but Morgan said he had no idea he would be fired. “But right now what’s important here, obviously, is the fact that I’m trying to make it clear that there was never anything done wrong in recruiting, and there was never anything done wrong with scheduling.”
Morgan was asked if he was considering a lawsuit against the university. Morgan replied that he and his family are “dazzled” by what has happened and he’s just focusing on making sure that everyone knows “that nothing wrong was ever done.” Morgan added that he looks forward to “continuing a career that has had a pristine reputation for 32 years.”
Morgan said it was important to have his players join him for Tuesday’s news conference. “It means the world to me. These guys know I love them, and I know that they love me. I know it breaks their heart, but we have to go on,” Morgan said. “It’s done and we have to do what we have to do.”
Morgan said he’ll aim for a smooth transition for his players — and for himself as he seeks another job. And Morgan said he has no animosity toward ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard. “When a president takes over a university, he has the right to decide who he wants the deans (to be) that work for him and I think when an athletic director takes over at a university, he has a right to decide which coaches he wants to work for him,” Morgan said. “…That does not have any negative impact on me.”
Morgan’s overall record at ISU was 55-39. His Big 12 record stands at 22-26. He led the Cyclones to the NIT semifinals in 2004 and the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2005. Iowa State had a 16 and 14 record this past season. I-S-U guards Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock announced last week that they intend to declare for the NBA draft.
I-S-U officials will hold a six o’clock news conference at Hilton Coliseum to introduce Greg McDermott as the new Cyclone men’s basketball coach. U-N-I, meanwhile, has announced that Ben Jacobson will be promoted to head coach to replace the departing McDermott who led the Panthers to the NCAA tournament this season.