When Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters heard that South Alabama was trying to lure Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey to Mobile, he called the school's athletic director with this message: If you get him, I want to be at the news conference to see it for myself.
Waters was in Mobile on Friday. So was Pelphrey.
After six seasons as the top assistant at Florida, Pelphrey was named coach at South Alabama.
Pelphrey, 33, takes over a program that went 7-21 last season, a school record for losses. He replaces Bob Weltlich, who left after four seasons as the coach. South Alabama won two Sun Belt conference titles and played in the NCAA Tournament one season under Weltlich, who was the Sun Belt coach of the year in 2000.
Pelphrey, a former All-SEC selection at Kentucky who has his jersey retired in Rupp Arena, has spent the past eight years with Florida coach Billy Donovan, the first two as an assistant at Marshall. He was mentioned as a candidate at West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee-Chattanooga and DePaul.
He said South Alabama was his only offer, but added that he carefully weighed his options. Among those he consulted were Donovan, former Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton and Louisville coach Rick Pitino. All encouraged him to take the job.
"Certainly those guys are very, very important and influential in my life," Pelphrey said. "I had a chance to communicate with those guys they were very, very positive. I think I've got their support."
Pelphrey will earn $165,000, plus incentives, which include attendance and academic performance by the athletes.
Pelphrey said he plans a "second press conference" with his new players to try to explain to them what he's all about and why they should remain with the program. Expect an up-tempo style of play similar to Florida's.
"That's something I feel very comfortable with," Pelphrey said. "From a playing standpoint I had some success that way. As a (assistant) coach, I enjoyed some success and that's the way I want to play as a head coach. The players enjoy it and I think it's certainly entertaining for the fans."
SPC eliminated 71-69
St. Petersburg College ended its stay at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., after a 71-69 loss to Walters State (Tenn.) Community College. The Titans (27-7) were 1-2 in their first tournament appearance.
SPC led by 10 with 15 minutes to play but lost the lead with 3.7 seconds left when Walters State's Reggie Johnson made a layup. SPC's Terrance Taylor failed to tip in a long pass at the buzzer.
Nick Berry led the Titans with 19 points. Carl Jenkins had 13 and Taylor had 10.
"This is the best bunch of players I've had as a college coach," SPC's Earnest Crumbley said. "This year we knocked on the door, next year we're kicking it in."
ARKANSAS: On the eve of his firing, coach Nolan Richardson threatened to destroy the university's reputation with "troops and tanks" reminiscent of the state's 1957 desegregation crisis, its athletic director said in a memo. According to notes compiled by athletic director Frank Broyles, Richardson remarked that "he didn't really want to hurt the university, but he may have to."
FSU: Leonard Hamilton named the first additions to his Seminoles staff. Stan Jones is associate head coach and Mike Jaskulski and Tony Sheals are assistants.
Jones and Jaskulski helped Hamilton revive the Miami program. Jones was an assistant there from 1995-2000 and Jaskulski from 1993-97. Jones spent the past season at Mississippi State, and in 2000-01 was an assistant on Hamilton's staff of the NBA's Wizards. Sheals, the Tampa Bay Thunderdawgs coach in the ABA in 2000-01, was administrative assistant for basketball operations in 2001-02 at Miami. He has 19 years of coaching experience.
LOUISVILLE: Freshman point guard Carlos Hurt was dismissed for violating team rules.
PITTSBURGH: Coach Ben Howland, who signed an extension last year, expects to complete a new long-term contract next week.
WYOMING: Coach Steve McClain, under consideration for the TCU opening, said he will remain with the Cowboys.
RATINGS UP: The CBS broadcast Thursday night of Indiana's victory over Duke and other region semifinals in the NCAA Tournament drew the highest preliminary TV ratings for the program in nine years. The telecast was watched in 7.9 percent of homes in the top 55 U.S. media markets, up from 7.3 percent a year ago. The ratings were the best since 1993. Preliminary ratings measure viewership in about two-thirds of the 105.5-million homes with TVs.
TEMPLE 63, VILLANOVA 57: The Owls, known for a stifling matchup zone defense, spent much of the game playing man-to-man in the quarterfinal. Villanova had 14 turnovers, Temple had three. Lynn Greer, Temple's leading scorer, didn't play after spraining an ankle Tuesday. He wore a walking cast on his right foot.
_ Times staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report, which used information from other news organizations.