Idaho fires coach hours after tourney loss

Updated: March 10, 2006, 8:32 AM ET
Associated Press

RENO, Nev. -- Idaho basketball coach Leonard Perry was fired Thursday night just hours after the Vandals lost to Nevada (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) 68-55 in the opening round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament to close the season with a record of 4-25.

Perry, who posted a 48-97 mark in five years as Idaho's head coach, told reporters after the game an announcement about his future with the team would be made in the next day or so.

But the university posted a statement on the school's Web site later Thursday night saying he would not return for the 2006-07 season.

"We sincerely appreciate coach Perry's passion for the game of basketball and his love of and commitment to the University of Idaho," athletic director Rob Spear said. "But we have decided we need to move the program in a new direction."

Perry, 37, didn't have a winning season with Idaho. His best year was his third, when the Vandals were 14-16 and finished fourth in the Big West Conference.

He said in the statement released by the school that he understood the decision.

"I've pretty much known that you can't win four games and expect to keep your job," Perry said. "You have to win. I understand that. ... We made changes I thought we needed to make. In no way, shape or form am I upset or mad. ... Change is inevitable."

Spear said a search for a new coach would begin immediately.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press