USF fires men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua
The Orlando Antigua era at USF, rife with controversy and player defections but virtually bereft of on-court success, has ended after 78 games.
Athletic director Mark Harlan announced Tuesday morning he has dismissed Antigua, 43, who compiled a 23-55 record in roughly 2 1/2 seasons.
(Here are five potential replacements.)
First-year assistant Murry Bartow, who previously served as head coach at East Tennessee State, will replace Antigua on an interim basis the rest of the season. USF (6-7, 0-2 American Athletic Conference) doesn't play again until Saturday's contest at SMU.
Antigua declined comment when reached Tuesday. Harlan indicated a national search for Antigua's successor will begin immediately.
"After a thorough and deliberate review of our men’s basketball program, a decision has been made to make a head coaching change," Harlan said in a statement released by the school.
"I met with Coach Antigua earlier today to inform him of this and to thank him for his service to USF. We wish Coach Antigua and his family the very best."
Whether the dismissal is directly connected to the NCAA's ongoing probe of the men's basketball program -- reportedly for potential academic violations -- is unclear. That investigation prompted the resignation of Antigua's brother Oliver, a Bulls assistant, last summer.
Antigua was in Year 3 of a five-year deal that paid roughly $900,000 annually with $25,000 yearly escalators built in. If terminated for cause (i.e. NCAA violations), the school would owe him only one month of his $375,000 annual base salary, according to his contract. If fired without cause, it owes him the annual base salary until the contract's expiration.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Antigua arrived at USF three springs ago with a resume equal parts sparkling and inspiring.
One of three boys raised by a single mom in the Bronx, Antigua survived a gunshot wound to the head as a teenager to become a standout at Pitt, and later a Harlem Globetrotter.
He spent six years as a John Calipari assistant, first at Memphis and later at Kentucky, before being hired by Harlan.
But he never established roster continuity, or the high-octane offense toward which he aspired, in Tampa. Under Antigua's watch, 13 scholarship players -- some of whom have flourished elsewhere at the Division level -- either left or were dismissed from the team.
As a result, Antigua's final winning percentage (.295) was the lowest of any of the Bulls' nine coaches in the program's 46 seasons.
The list of potential replacements will be lengthy, but a name to consider is UCLA assistant David Grace, whose tenure in Westwoood coincided with Harlan's for roughly a year. A source told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that Grace covets the Bulls job.
Current Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is believed to have wanted the gig in the past (and still might), but the Gophers are 13-2 and received the most votes of any non-ranked team in the latest Associated Press poll.