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Dereck Whittenburg Fired From Fordham

December 3, 2009
Sad, but not surprising, news in the Wolfpack coaching tree:

Dereck Whittenburg has been fired in his seventh season as the basketball coach at Fordham after the Rams’ 1-4 start.

Athletic director Frank McLaughlin announced the move Thursday and said assistant coach Jared Grasso will take over on an interim basis.

Whittenburg, the player who took the long shot that led to the winning basket for North Carolina State and Jim Valvano in the 1983 championship game, was 69-112 at Fordham.

His only season with an over-.500 record was 2006-07, when the Rams went 18-12. Fordham was 3-25 last season, including 1-15 in the Atlantic 10.

Whittenburg was head coach at Wagner for four seasons before going to Fordham. He led the Seahawks to the NCAA tournament in 2003.

The timing is a little interesting. Five games in? Really? Did you find out something in the fifth game you didn’t know before the season started?

My guess is that, in an ever-competitive coaching job market, the folks at Fordham wanted to give Whitt time to get off to a blazing start but short of that they were probably going to ahead and get out in front of the job search process. You never want to be the last program looking to fill a vacancy, so in some senses, firing a guy-mid-season gives a program that headstart on other programs that may make a move after the year ends. It’s sad, but it’s business, too.

If he’s planning to stay in coaching, here’s hoping Whitt can land somewhere as an assistant with a top-level program and start working back up that ladder.

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