Sunday, February 22, 2009

Letter requesting keeping the current basketball coach at the University of Arizona

Mr. Jim Livengood- Athletic Director
Dear Sir,
I am writing out of concern for the future of the men’s basketball program. You have allowed it to flounder for the past two years to where all of the best recruits have gone elsewhere. You and Columnist Greg Hansen keep talking about hiring a big name coach for next year. Even after the great win over UCLA, in his column this morning he said,” The first priority UA Jim Livengood has in hiring a coach is to get someone who can immediately recruit elite-level players”.
Since no respectable coach would leave his team in the middle of the season, the program continues in limbo. The current coaching staff is hampered if they try to recruit, as they will not be here to coach them. The prospective players will for their own sakes not commit without knowing they would be entering a program with a seasoned staff capable of giving them the coaching they need to develop as players in the sport they love. The ones who are capable of advancing to the pro leagues especially will not take the risk.
I know the bottom line for you is the income the basketball program brings to the Athletic Department. When this year began the interim coaches chosen to lead were told by you that they would not be hired for next year. In spite of that and with the super star recruits not showing up, Russ Pennell and his assistants have nurtured the players they had, and step by step, game after game, there has been steady progress. The fans being disillusioned stayed away early on. There were several thousand empty seats. The USC attendance set a McKale record and today’s game with UCLA was another full house. The players, after being kicked around have bonded with Mr. Pennell, his father, Dunlap and Gerry. What more can you ask? A recruit, seeing what is happening at Arizona, would want to be a part of the famous U of A program, and would be impressed with the current staff.
Russ Pennell’s masterful coaching in the final minute of the Huston game should become a classic training tool for coach’s everywhere. Except for the foolish foul by Horne, the foul called on Wise as he tried to stand up in the first USC game and the technical called on the bench in the ASU game, we would have 21 wins by now and be high in the top 25 rankings.
It is obvious to me and the fans I have talked with, that we admire the job being done by the staff and wonder why you keep insisting on a big name. I am here to tell you that if the current staff is let go, you will have to get by without me and others from showing up next year. The longer you wait, the worse it will get. It is time for you to do the right thing

Sincerely yours,

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
February 15, 2009

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