Basketball Coach Rob Clune fired – Players respond to decision made by the Athletic Department

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Basketball Head Coach Rob Clune was fired from his position last week following a 14-11 season, going 11-5 in NCAC conference play. Clune held the position of head coach since September of 2002.

“I can confirm that Rob Clune will not be the basketball coach next season,” said Director of Athletics Betsy Mitchell.

David Sinclair/AlleghenySports.com - Coach Rob Clune (right) with George Raftis, '10.

Clune is still listed as the head basketball coach on the Allegheny athletics Web site and there was no update on the site that informed the college community about the firing. Mitchell said that this is a delicate matter and would not discuss the reason for the firing.

“Coaching is a public profession,” Mitchell said. “Our highest obligation is to have grace in this private matter.”

Clune is still listed on staff and no formal announcement was made because he has asked for some time to finish up his work at Allegheny. Mitchell is not sure if a formal announcement would have been made either way.

Mitchell informed the men’s basketball team last Thursday that Coach Clune will not be returning next year.

“I will keep the team informed throughout the hiring process,” Mitchell said. “The job has been posted.”

Mitchell said that the job is posted online on job sites where the school recruits coaches and she will make an announcement when a new coach is selected.

“I respect Rob,” Mitchell said. “I appreciate what he has done in his years here as an assistant and head coach at Allegheny.”

The Campus was able to reach Coach Clune for comment.

“I have enjoyed coaching here and all of the players coming through,” Clune said. “I wish nothing but the best for the program for years to come.”

The decision to fire Clune was met with anger from some basketball players.

George Raftis, ’10, is an All-NCAC First Team selection and is second on the list of rebounders in Allegheny history.

“I’d say that the team overall is hurt from the decision that the athletic director has made,” Raftis said. “I feel someone in her position should take more interest in all athletic programs and make more informed decisions. She’s had minimal contact with players on our team. We’re all disappointed. I feel bad for the guys that have to go through next year with a new coach.”

Some players thought that the decision was a case of bad timing.

“I completely disagree with the decision to fire him,” said Pete Jones, ’10, graduating forward. “We were a heavily senior oriented team with a bunch of young, good players. [The decision] basically ruined the whole recruiting class. I know players who are thinking about transferring because of this.”

Jones is referring to the fact that Clune has spent the season recruiting players for next season, and now he will not be present.

“If I were a recruit, I wouldn’t want to come here after a coach recruited me the entire time and then was fired,” Jones said.

Charlie Jaicks, ’10, who averaged 10 points per game this season, shares Jones’ sentiment.

“I feel that it was bad timing considering it was not only one of our better seasons, but also that we have six seniors graduating and only a couple guys are returning,” Jaicks said. “It might set up a bad situation for the new coach coming in.”

Jones stressed their improved record this season.

“We came off one of the better seasons we’ve had in a while,” Jones said. “Players come here because of Clune. We’ve all grown to respect Clune as a coach and I disagree with Betsy Mitchell’s decision to fire him.”

Craig Devinney, ’10, shares the sentiment with his fellow teammates.

“It’s disappointing,” Devinney said. “I feel it was definitely bad timing. I felt like we were getting on the right track, we’re real close knit, and I definitely had a great experience under Coach Clune and I think I can speak for everyone.”

Freshman guard Devone McLeod is sad to see Clune go.

“Coach Clune is a good guy and gave me a lot of opportunities,” McLeod said. “The decision on my future will depend on how the coaching hiring process plays out.”

James Ness, ’12, played forward this year for the Gators.

“It was unfortunate,” Ness said. “I was looking forward to Clune coaching me for the rest of my career. I think it was handled poorly and the timing was off.”

Jones is one of the seniors that is unhappy that Clune will be leaving.

“I always liked Clune, and he’s always respected me as a player and a person,” Jones said.

Jaicks also is upset that Clune will not be returning.

“We all, as seniors, definitely enjoyed Coach Clune as a person and as a coach,” he said.

Betsy Mitchell responded to upset players and their opinions.

“Of course it matters to me that students are upset,” Mitchell said. “It’s not something that one undertakes lightly. I’m glad that students care about their coach so much. I’m glad students are connected to their experience and the program. Of course I care about how they feel and I know this is a challenging time.”

Clune’s overall record at Allegheny as a head coach finishes at 96-112 overall and 62-67 in NCAC competition.

*Coach Clune’s comment was received after the print deadline, which is why it does not appear in the paper version of The Campus.

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