Kent Era at UO Nearing an End
Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard
University of Oregon men's basketball coach Ernie Kent has informed his players that he won't be retained for another season.
The decision to let them know of his status apparently was prompted by a weekend report that Kent already has been told he will be fired, effective at the end of this, his 13th season.
Neither Kent nor his players would comment Monday, but sources close to the team confirmed what had transpired.
Asked again Monday about the story of his ouster, which was first aired by KVAL-TV on Saturday evening, Kent said, "I'm not going to comment at all" on his status as the head coach at his alma mater.
His "focus," he added, was going to be entirely on preparing his team to meet Washington State on Wednesday at the Pac-10 tournament in Los Angeles.
UO athletic director Mike Bellotti informed Kent of his decision to fire the coach on Feb. 22, the Monday after the Ducks lost a home series to Stanford and California, according to a source who confirmed most elements of the KVAL report. The university might have announced Kent's firing at that time, but Kent apparently wanted to protect his team from the furor that was likely to erupt around the players if it was known he was going to be replaced.
Bellotti said again this weekend that he would meet with Kent after the Pac-10 tournament to discuss the coach's status, and Kent offered a similar scenario Monday.
"I'm going to coach through the Pac-10 tournament and (then) sit down with Mike," Kent said. "We've got a plan sitting there. As of right now, I'm not focused on that."
After Kent was told he would be replaced at the end of the season, the Ducks then went to Los Angeles and won two games, and split last weekend's series with Washington and WSU. But because of the increased speculation on his status, Kent chose to speak with his players on Sunday and let them know of the university's decision.
The players were asked by the coach to keep the information to themselves, and the two Ducks made available to the media on Monday went along with that. …