Sometime in the next two weeks Morgan State president Earl Richardson will receive an internal report on the state of Golden Bear athletics, but he began making changes of his own Friday, when he fired football coach Ed Wyche.
Wyche's dismissal means that for the ninth time in the last 16 years, Morgan State will have a new head coach charged with turning around its football fortunes, which have slumped considerably since Earl Banks retired from sideline duties in 1973. No Morgan State coach since has lasted more than three seasons.
The Golden Bears enter the current high school recruiting season without a head coach, and athletic director Leonard Braxton said a national search will begin soon.
"Something must be done as quickly as possible," Braxton said, "but we have to realize this might be the most important football hire we've ever made. It's crucial to the success of the program that we find the right man.
"This year was rough, and to ensure that trend didn't continue, we had to make a change."
Wyche is the second head coach released by Richardson this year, as basketball coach Nat Frazier was fired last January. Wyche had no comment on his annual contract not being renewed.
After head coaching positions at four other colleges, Wyche became Morgan State's leader in February 1988. The Golden Bears went 1-10 that year, beating only Elizabeth City, but in September 1989, en route to a 3-0-1 start, Richardson said, "I am very pleased with the direction we've taken."
Morgan State then went on a six-game losing streak and finished 4-6-1, still its best record since 1981. This year the Golden Bears were outscored 412-81 and slipped to 1-10. The only victories in their last 18 games were over Cheyney State, like Elizabeth City a Division II foe.
During the course of his tenure Wyche said Morgan State had the resources to be competitive in the Mid-Eastern Athletic bTC Conference, but he also complained about his inability to give five-year scholarships, which allows players to be red-shirted as freshmen.
"That's been Morgan State's history," Braxton said. "There's no plan to re-evaluate that [five-year scholarships]. That has never crossed my mind."
In recent months, Braxton, Dr. Raymond Downs, vice president for student affairs, and Dr. George Carter, faculty athletic chairman, have overseen an internal analysis of Morgan State's entire athletic program.
"Within that report is a five-year projection of where we want our athletic program to be," Braxton said. "From our facilities to academic support to marketing, we have looked at the entire program from A to Z. We will give that to the president [Richardson] for his perusal before Christmas.
"Our athletic program should be growing at the same rate as growth is occurring elsewhere on campus. It's time for athletics to take a bigger stance."