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Colorado's Patton says he will resign at end of season

DENVER -- Ricardo Patton is through waiting for a contract extension. He announced Wednesday he's resigning as the men's basketball coach at the University of Colorado when his deal expires at season's end on July 1, 2007.

"Today I am announcing that this is my last year as head coach," Patton said at the beginning of the team's media day. "I will neither seek nor accept an extension of my contract."

He said he was doing this for his players.

"We have a large, outstanding freshman class and a talented team this year. Our players need to focus on adjusting to the rigor of academics at CU and the level of competition in the Big 12 without being distracted by speculation regarding my contract," Patton said.

Patton is 177-140 in 10 years at Colorado. He guided them to two NCAA Tournament berths, in 1996-97 behind Chauncey Billups and again in 2002-03.

Patton, who took over the program on Jan. 16, 1996, after several years as an assistant, said he informed his players Wednesday morning of his decision but hadn't been able to get in touch with athletic director Mike Bohn to let him know before he told the media.

Later, Bohn said Patton's announcement blind-sided him.

"This came as a big surprise to me. I'm also disappointed,
we've had weekly meetings that have been constructive and
positive," Bohn said. "His concern for his players was foremost
on his mind, and I applaud him for that."

Bohn, who met with the team before their afternoon practice,
said he has no timetable for selecting a replacement and doesn't
have even a list of potential candidates.

"I'm really not prepared for this because it was a complete surprise," Bohn said.

Patton said he never considered stepping down immediately.

"No. We don't teach our guys to quit. This is not quitting,"
Patton said. "This is just knowing when it is time to move on. We
talk to our guys about life every day. I think there is certainly a
life lesson in this moment."

Junior star Richard Roby said the team was taken aback by
Patton's announcement.

"I think we were all surprised, shocked, and confused," Roby
said. "It is kind of hurtful when your coach leaves, but it is a
part of life. You have a lot of relationships; sometimes they don't
last, sometimes they do. But you have to move on."

Freshman Kalvin Bay said he was surprised and disappointed.

"I don't like the feeling right now. It's definitely a shock. We were all surprised," Bay said. "This is the first we all heard at all about it. Of course, there has been the speculation and rumor of him not coming back next year.

"I don't think we all like it at all, but we understand that he did it for unselfish reasons -- which makes me respect him -- to take the pressure off us during the season."

Bohn had said for months that he would evaluate Patton at the
end of the season before deciding whether to extend the contract,
something that clearly irked Patton: "I think there's a body of
work that speaks for itself," Patton said.

Patton said he plans to continue coaching somewhere next season.

In an interview with the AP last week, Patton said he did not want his players to feel as though they were playing to save his job this season.

"I came here, I believe, with a solid name and when it's time for me to go, I'll leave with a solid name," Patton told the AP. "I won't coach under any pressure to save my job. I'll coach the same way I've always coached and that's to get the most out of my team that I can possibly get out of them.

"I'm at peace with who I am. I'm at peace with the job I've done here and at the end of the day, if it's time for me to leave, I'm at peace with that."

Despite not having a contract extension, Patton recruited what he called his best class at CU this year. His team has eight incoming freshmen and he's gotten three verbal commitments from high school seniors for next season -- all of whom were notified of his decision to resign Wednesday.

Patton said his pitch was to commit to the school and not the coach, to get a good education and play in the Big 12. So, he didn't foresee any of them backing out now that he's leaving when his contract expires next July 1.

"I don't think that those guys have wavered one bit, to my knowledge," Patton said.

Roby said one reason he decided to put off his pro aspirations and return to campus this season was to play for Patton again.

"I really wanted to see him get an extension," Roby told the AP. "He works hard and he's a great coach. He's really trying to teach us this year and he's going about things the right way. The team is always first to him. It's not about his job."