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Rams fire coach Layer with year remaining on contract

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Colorado State, once a regional
basketball powerhouse, fired head coach Dale Layer on Monday after
failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight
year.

Layer, who had a 103-106 record over seven years, had a year
left on his contract, which the school said it would honor.

Athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said it was "time to move in a
different direction." He said the poor performance of the team had
cost it fan support.

Kowalczyk said the school's board expected better from the
program, including "to get into the NCAA Tournament regularly and
repeatedly. Our goal is to win the Mountain West Conference every
year. If we aren't able to do that, certainly get an at-large bid
and be in the NCAA Tournament."

Layer was named head coach on April 11, 2000, after two years as
a Colorado State assistant under Ritchie McKay. Kowalczyk came to
CSU in April after being AD at Southern Illinois, which has reached
the NCAA Tournament four of the last seven years.

Layer signed a five-year extension after leading the Rams to the
Mountain West championship and NCAA Tournament in 2003. They lost
to Duke in the NCAA West Regional that year.

"It has indeed been an honor and a privilege to serve as head
coach at Colorado State for the past seven years. My staff and I
have worked extremely hard to represent CSU in a positive manner. I
greatly appreciate the opportunity and will always be a Ram at
heart," Layer said in a statement. Asked to elaborate as he
carried two empty packing boxes into Moby Arena, Layer declined
comment.

Kowalczyk conceded recent coaching changes, including several in
the region, would complicate the search for a successor for Layer,
including a lowest in the conference salary.

"We're going to have to find money. We're going to have to make
it work," he said.

Assistant coach Myron Guillory will stay on to oversee the
program, including keeping team members and recruits at CSU,
pending the naming of a new coach. "It will be up to the (new)
coach to decide who his staff will be," said Kowalczyk.

The search will begin immediately. No one has contacted him yet,
he said.

"The world is my oyster at this point with basketball coaches.
Anything goes," said Kowalczyk. He said he wants a winner, but not
someone who takes shortcuts.

He said there is no reason the program can't be revived. "This
is an excellent institution, we have a lot of assets here and we
have some things to overcome which is part of what my role is and
I'll be fighting those battles on and off campus as they rise. I
think we have the potential to really do great things here. That's
why I took the job here."

Kowalczyk also was successful at Carbondale with both the
football and basketball programs.