FAU would be foolish if it sticks to plan to fire women's basketball coach Chancellor Dugan
It's a safe bet that until this week, FAU women's basketball coach Chancellor Dugan was not looking forward to this Thursday.
Funny how things change. The Owls are now slated to face South Florida in the Women's NIT on that day - a reward for a regular season performance that may have allowed Dugan to save her job.
Owl Access has learned that last March, Dugan was informed that the 2011-2012 season would be her last, and her final day as coach of the Owls would be March 15, 2012 – this Thursday.
In a letter dated March 14, 2011, which was obtained by Owl Access using a public records request, FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos gave Dugan a written “Notice of Separation” and outlined the details of her being dismissed, which included having her coach the 2011-12 season.
However, plenty has changed since then.
The women's basketball program is enjoying one of the most successful seasons in school history. FAU's 17-12 record was its best overall since the Owls went 20-11 in 2005-06, the year the Owls advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
After winning seven games last season, the improvement of 10 added victories this season was the sixth-best turnaround this season in Division I.
The Owls were 11-5 in conference play, its best conference record since joining the Sun Belt in 2006. FAU also won a game in the Sun Belt tournament for the first time in school history, advancing to the semifinals where the Owls lost to eventual champion UALR.
And to cap the season off, Dugan and FAU found out Monday they would be going to the Women's NIT for the first time in school history.
So, you'd think the coach of the only program that has been a consistent winner this season at FAU would be safe from the proverbial hatchet?
Well, on Tuesday Angelos told Owl Access he would only commit to having Dugan coach until the end of his season, which would stretch beyond the original March 15 termination date should FAU win that first round game to advance in the NIT.
After that, Dugan's future is subject to his evaluation of the program at the end of the season.
"We are finishing out the season here and we will go from there," Angelos said. "We will extend her time here, for sure, throughout the tournament. She's done a great job this year....We will reevaluate at the end of the season."
I'm sure Dugan (who declined to answer questions about her future until after the season is over) will welcome the evaluation, but what exactly is there to evaluate?
Dugan is 320-289 in 13 seasons, and has had many seasons where the team has struggled. But the program took a major step forward this season and while the WNIT isn't quite the NCAA Tournament, the women's basketball team is the first FAU team to make it to post-season play since the men's basketball team went to the NIT last season.
There are rumors that this call may be made by some higher-ups at the university and it's believed potential replacements for Dugan have already been contacted. However, that was before the Owls finished the season strong and made it to where few teams at FAU have ever been – a post-season.
Common sense would seem to dictate it would be morally wrong to dismiss a coach who pulled off such a fine season and in the end, I believe Dugan will be welcomed back. It just seems odd that there is even a question as to whether the only coach on campus who is currently winning games should be allowed to stay.