The University of Washington Huskies are shopping for a new men's basketball coach after the resignation of Andy Russo, under fire after two consecutive losing seasons.
Athletic Director Mike Lude said he had no timetable for selecting a new coach, but added the decision would be entirely his."It's my job," he said.
Lude described the 40-year-old Russo as "devastated" by his decision to resign Wednesday after four years at Washington. Russo indicated he would look for another coaching job, Lude said.
Russo did not attend a news conference that Lude called Wednesday, but Lude said Russo made an emotional departure.
"He really felt badly," Lude said. "He was really down. He felt the pressure. He was just devastated."
Russo had a 61-62 record in four years at Washington, surprisingly poor after his 122-55 record in six seasons at Louisiana Tech. He came to the Huskies after guiding the Louisiana school to a 29-3 record in the 1984-85 season.
The Huskies were 12-16 this season, including a 55-point loss to Arizona and a 40-point defeat to Oregon State. They had hoped to rebound from a 10-19 record in 1987-88.
With the departure of Russo, the speculation about his successor centered around Lynn Nance, 42, coach at St. Mary's.
Nance, a Washington player in the 1960s, coached St. Mary's to the West Coast Athletic Conference regular season championship and into the NCAA tournament this season.
Nance was a candidate to get the job Russo got four years ago, Lude said.
Russo came to Seattle to replace retired Coach Marv Harshman.
At Louisiana Tech, Russo's final two teams were led by Karl Malone, now a star forward with the Utah Jazz who was the MVP of this season's NBA All-Star game. Russo's 1983-84 Louisiana Tech team went 26-7.
At Washington, his 1985-86 team went 19-12 and made the NCAA tournament and his 1986-87 team went 20-15 and made the NIT tournament.
In December, the Huskies lost to Arizona 116-61 and Arizona State 121-90 on the road and never recovered from the lopsided defeats.
Relations between Russo and his players soured.
Later in the season, after a 106-66 loss to Oregon State in Seattle, an unidentified Washington player said, "The biggest gripe I've been hearing is, they need somebody they can play for."
Russo had two years left on his Washington contract at $77,160 a year. Lude said Russo would be paid in full - $154,320 - for the last two seasons of his contract even if he got another coaching job.
In addition to Nance, top names mentioned as possible candidates to succeed Russo included Paul Westhead of Loyola-Marymount, Jerry Pimm of University of California-Santa Barbara, top Duke assistant Bob Bender, Indiana Pacers assistant George Irvine, and Jim Crews of Evansville.
Lude said he probably would only consider head coaches to become Russo's replacement.