Hoosiers won 8 games in DiNardo's 3 seasons
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Gerry DiNardo is now the latest coach to fail at Indiana.
DiNardo was fired Wednesday, 11 days after the Hoosiers ended a 3-8 season with a 63-24 loss to in-state rival Purdue. It was his third losing season.
The firing is the first major coaching change by athletic director Rick Greenspan since he was hired in September as the school's fourth AD in a little more than three years.
Greenspan said there was a "sense of urgency" for turning around a football program that has not had a winning season since going 7-4 in 1994 -- the 11th of Bill Mallory's 13 seasons as coach.
"The goal for us is to build a viable program," Greenspan said. "We're going to have some urgency."
A telephone message seeking comment from DiNardo, who replaced Cam Cameron after the 2001 season, was left Wednesday at his home.
DiNardo had an 8-27 record in three seasons. Fred Eichhorn, president of the school's Board of Trustees, said that record and declining attendance at games were factors in the decision to fire DiNardo.
"If you've got a problem, you don't continue the problem," Eichhorn said.
The team will start next season with its third head coach in five seasons.
Greenspan said none of DiNardo's assistant coaches have been fired and that he hoped some of them would be retained by the new coach. He said he planned to conduct a wide search for DiNardo's replacement, looking at both the college and professional ranks.
"I don't believe in quick fixes," Greenspan said. "I do believe in looking at trends and patterns."
One of those patterns is declining attendance. Crowds averaged about 28,400 this season in Indiana's 52,000-seat Memorial Stadium -- down from about 35,000 the year before and the 12th straight year attendance averaged less than 40,000. The Big Ten average for the 2003 season was 72,000.
The athletics department also faces a $5 million debt, a situation that won't be helped as Indiana officials pay out the remaining two years of DiNardo's five-year contract. The agreement signed in early 2002 guaranteed DiNardo at least $530,000 a year -- a base salary of $225,000 plus outside income.
"We need to find someone who can look beyond the past, look beyond the recent past, look beyond perhaps what some others would say -- 'Is the task too large?' " he said.
DiNardo inherited a team that was weakened by the departure of record-setting quarterback Antwaan Randle El. But this season started with promise: For the first time in his three years, the Hoosiers started the season with a full allotment of 85 scholarship players. They opened 2-0 for the first time since 1996 after a road upset of then-No. 24 Oregon.
The season quickly soured, however, as the Hoosiers lost their next five games by an average of 16 points before upsetting then-No. 24 Minnesota for their only Big Ten victory of the year.
After the season-ending rout by Purdue, DiNardo said "this was just about the worst day we've had as a team."
DiNardo is the 10th Indiana coach since Bo McMillan left in 1947 to fail to produce an overall winning record.
DiNardo played at Notre Dame and was a member of the Irish's 1973 national championship team. He was 32-24-1 at LSU, where he led the Tigers to three straight bowl appearances during 1995-97 but was fired 10 games into the 1999 season. He went 19-25 at Vanderbilt, its best four-year span in 25 years.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press