NIU fires coach Ricardo Patton

Updated: March 10, 2011, 12:02 AM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

Northern Illinois announced Wednesday that men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton has been fired after four seasons.

Patton was 35-83 overall and 19-44 in the Mid-American Conference during his four years. The Huskies went 9-21 this season and were knocked out of the opening round of the conference tournament by Bowling Green on Tuesday.

"I appreciate the hard work and dedication to Northern Illinois University and our men's basketball program that Ricardo and his staff have shown over the past four years," Northern Illinois athletic director Jeff Compher said in a statement. "The program has progressed academically under his leadership, and he and his staff have done a great job of becoming a part of this community and have been active members of our athletics department. We wish all of them the best in the future."

Patton believed he had achieved some success at Northern Illinois during his time.

"Although we have not won as many games as any of us would have liked, I do feel that we won in some other very significant areas in our men's basketball program," Patton said in a statement. "My family and I have met some wonderful people during our four-year tenure here in the state of Illinois. We would like to wish the university and the community much success in the years to come."

Northern Illinois senior guard Xavier Silas was sad to see Patton leave.

"Coach Patton is a great coach," Silas said. "It's unfortunate how things played out on our journey here. We had some unfortunate happenings while trying to build the foundation at NIU -- most of which were out of Coach P's hands. His record here doesn't reflect his work or passion."

This will be Compher's first men's basketball coaching hire since being named athletic director. Patton was chosen by former athletic director Jim Phillips, who now holds the same position at Northwestern.

Northern Illinois will use Collegiate Sports Associates to help in its coaching search.

"I have no doubt that with the support of President Peters, our alumni and the Northern Illinois University community, we will attract a highly-qualified candidate to lead our men's basketball program," Compher said.

Patton, who formerly coached at Colorado, was hired in 2007 to replace Rob Judson, who was fired after his team finished that season with a 7-23 record. Patton took the Buffaloes to the postseason six times, including two trips to the NCAA tournament, and went 184-160 in 11 years at Colorado.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.