Rams fire coach Layer with year remaining on contract

Updated: March 12, 2007, 10:46 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press