Morgan makes parting with Fuller

Contract not renewed after 5-24, 6-23 seasons

College Basketball

March 14, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

After two straight seasons with fewer than 10 wins, Morgan State has decided not to renew the contract of men's basketball coach Chris Fuller.

The coach told The Sun about the decision yesterday, not long after he met with athletic director Dr. David Thomas. Fuller's departure comes after six years of coaching the Bears, with a 6-23 record in the season that ended this past week. In his time at Morgan State, he had a record of 53-115.

"I'm disappointed, but not bitter," Fuller said.

The coach thanked the school's president, Dr. Earl Richardson, and the school's vice president of student affairs, Ricardo Perry, for "an opportunity to do something I've always dreamed of."

Thomas said: "I would contend that the program needs a change. The direction of the program was not acceptable."

Fuller came to Morgan State from Buffalo, N.Y.'s Erie Community College in 1995, replacing Lynn Ramage. In his fourth season - with a team he said he nurtured from his first season - the Bears finished 14-14 in 1998-99, Morgan State's first non-losing season since 1988-89.

"That particular team was developed with players that I brought in my first year," the coach said. "I thought that this year's team held the potential to be pretty good."

When Fuller met with Thomas yesterday, he hoped that the potential might carry him to a new contract. But the past two seasons stood as a harbinger for anything but success.

With their best player, Curtis King, transferring to Drexel after a suspension, the Bears labored to a 5-24 season in 1999-2000. With King returning, joined by senior center Michael Canady and high-scoring, junior-college transfer Anton Jenifer, Morgan State held high hopes for 2000-2001.

Instead, with lighter nonconference matchups than normal - with Georgetown and Georgia Tech as the only onerous games - Morgan State lost 14 games in a row at one point and failed to recover during the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament.

By New Year's, Thomas was already beginning to receive resumes from coaches interested in coaching the Bears next season. Fuller hoped that an upset win over UMES during the MEAC tournament might sway the decision-makers at Morgan State, but he suspected that this would be his last year.

"I was ready for either thing, but I was not surprised," he said of the news of his departure. "We didn't win and that's what you look for, so that's over for me. ... I had a good time."

Thomas said: "We will go for the best candidate that is available." Thomas said he wants to conclude the search by late April.

"My hope is to be able to complete the process by the end of the recruiting season."

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