SALT LAKE CITY — Less than four years after it began, the Jim Boylen Era has ended at the University of Utah.
Boylen was "relieved of his duties" as men's head basketball coach on Saturday, following his second straight losing season. The Utes finished 13-18 this year and lost in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament for the second straight year on Thursday night.
He was informed by Utah athletics director Chris Hill on Saturday morning and met with his team shortly afterward to tell them the news.
Boylen said he was too busy coaching his team to worry about his job status, but wasn't oblivious to the rumors about his job status.
"I had a pretty good idea," he said. "I'm OK. I'm mostly concerned about my staff and my players."
Boylen took two hours Saturday afternoon to meet with any media that wanted to talk to him and was classy to the end.
"I'm thankful to have been the head coach here and to have had this opportunity," he said. "I'm thankful to President (Michael) Young and Dr. Hill. We won a league championship and a tournament championship. We were building with a group of guys that have grown. This core group of guys are good players and I felt if we kept this core together, we were going to have some success. I was hoping for one more year and it didn't come about."
When asked the reasons why he felt he was let go, Boylen said, "I think Dr. Hill looks at the wins and losses for the last two years. It certainly wasn't our academics, our compliance or anything off the floor. We've run a clean program and academically we're as good as anyone in the country."
Hill was vague about any reasons for making the decision to let Boylen go.
"I can't list a bunch of reasons," he said. "But as you add everything up, it didn't appear we were heading in the right direction with the program. There's no one particular thing can be pinpointed."
When pressed, Hill did say the lack of winning was a major factor.
"There's no question winning is a part of what we do in athletics — you can't deny that," he said. "We have a really proud basketball tradition here and there's no question how successful the team is competitively is a big part of that. As you look at it, you just have to make a decision."
Hill said the university would pay Boylen $2 million as part of a buyout clause in a contract the coach signed two years ago. That was in 2009 after the Utes had won the Mountain West Conference regular-season and conference championships.
However, Hill claims no university or donor funds will be used to pay Boylen a monthly salary of $30,000-plus for the next three years.
Hill said it will be taken care of in three ways: through contingency funds in the athletic department, anticipated revenues from joining the Pac-12 and what kind of job Boylen gets. Whatever Boylen is paid in his next job, it will be subtracted from what the U. owes him.
"It's not insignificant, but we have a plan in place so that it doesn't hurt other programs," Hill said.
The university just finished paying off the remaining four years of the contract of former coach Ray Giacoletti. When asked if it was a mistake to give Boylen a 5-year, $4 million contract in 2009 on top of the money owed to Giacoletti, Hill said, "The reality is we won the league and the tournament and other people were courting Jim."
Some of the Ute players took the news of their coach's firing hard.
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