John Sneed, who directed Fullerton State to a 16-13 record as interim coach, was promoted to head coach Saturday and given a three-year contract.

Sneed, 40, became interim coach after George McQuarn resigned Nov. 3, less than a month before the season started.Sneed had been an assistant coach at Fullerton State for the previous eight seasons.

The Titans were eliminated from the Big West Conference tournament here Friday night, losing 99-83 to top-seeded and 18th-ranked Nevada-Las Vegas in the semifinals.

"I'd like to give thanks to all the people who have stood behind me all year in a difficult situation - the faculty, administration and fans," Sneed said at a news conference. "Everyone has been very positive and given me a lot of help during this season."

The Big West coaches and media picked the Titans to finish ninth this year.

They had no returning starters and opened the season with only nine players.

After a 5-1 start they suffered through a seven-game losing streak before winning 11 of their last 16 games.

Fullerton State finished in a three-way tie for fourth at 10-8, its best record in four seasons, and was seeded fourth in the tournament.

The Titans were one of only two Big West teams to beat UNLV this year.

"We conducted an open and thorough search and stuck to our timetable to name a coach at the end of the seson, Fullerton State athletic director Ed Carroll said.

"The job John did with this year's team, our fans and the media has been outstanding."