Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Shorts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Shorts

Article excerpt

Marquette Coach O'Neill Takes Tennessee Job

Kevin O'Neill, who guided Marquette to a spot in the NCAA Tournament the last two years, was hired Monday to coach the University of Tennessee men's basketball team. O'Neill replaces Wade Houston, who resigned after his team went 5-22 this season and 65-90 in five seasons.

Athletic director Doug Dickey said O'Neill will have a five-year contract with a base salary of $115,000 a year, plus guaranteed radio and television income of $125,000 a year.

In five seasons at Marquette, O'Neill had a record of 86-62, including 20-8 and 24-9 the last two years. Marquette lost to Duke in the Southeast Regional on Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn.

"I was very privileged to work at Marquette," said O'Neill, 37, who becomes the youngest basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference. "I had an opportunity to build the program back to a national level of prominence. But at this point, I think it was time for me to make a change."

Marquette won the Great Midwest Conference regular-season championship this year with a 10-2 record. O'Neill was the conference's coach of the year the last two seasons.

Possible candidates for the Marquette job include Bo Ellis, a Marquette assistant who played on the Warriors' 1977 NCAA championship team; Washington State coach Kelvin Sampson; Duke assistant Tommy Amaker; and Ball State coach Ray McCallum.

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BASKETBALL

Pitt Hires Western Kentucky Coach

Ralph Willard, who led Western Kentucky to a 81-42 record, including NCAA Tournament appearances the last two seasons, has been hired to coach at Pittsburgh. He will replace Paul Evans, who was fired despite coaching the Panthers to five NCAA tournaments in eight seasons.

Willard had been regarded as the front-runner for the Providence job after Rick Barnes was hired by Clemson. However, he was enticed by Pitt's plans to build an on-campus arena and changed his mind last week. Pitt offered Willard a multiyear contract - apparently for five years - and a package worth $350,000 to $400,000 a year. Willard made $300,000 a year at Western Kentucky.

Olajuwon Suspended For Game

Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets, the National Basketball Association's third-leading scorer and rebounder, was suspended by the league for hitting referee Bill Spooner in the stomach with an open hand in a game Sunday against Phoenix. Olajuwon will miss one game, tonight in Sacramento. He was gesturing at Spooner to protest what he thought should have been a foul on the Suns' A.C. Green.

Andres Guibert, a 6-foot-10 center who defected from Cuba last year, signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves and will become the first Cuban to play in the NBA. Guibert, 25, is expected to arrive in Minneapolis in early April.

Glenn Robinson was named the winner of the Eastman Award, becoming the first player from Purdue to receive that honor. …

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