We’re not going to pretend Fordham’s basketball program has had a whole lot of good days since joining the Atlantic 10 in 1995, but in the past 24 hours they’ve just about hit rock bottom. First came news yesterday that its best player, sophomore Jio Fontan, has decided to leave Fordham effective immediately, and today we learned that the school has fired head coach Dereck Whittenburg. (You most likely know Whittenburg as the guy who took and missed this shot, but he’d been the coach at Fordham since 2003.) Assistant coach Jared Grasso will coach the team on an interim basis for the rest of the season.
During more optimistic times, Whittenburg was thought to be the coach who’d save the school from the ugly Bob Hill era and usher it, at the very least, into a period of relevance. (We’ll admit to making this very point in the school paper when we were a student there.) But the team has struggled mightily since finishing with an 18–12 record in 2006–2007. (They went 12–16 the following year and 3–23 last year. They have one win in five games thus far this season.)
For an indication of how bleak things had gotten under Whittenburg, witness the elation over the news of his firing at alumni message board FordhamFans.com. Or, if you’ve got an afternoon to kill, read this Columbia J-School student’s in-depth article on the state of the program, circa last spring. That article is called “Life at the Bottom,” but they’ve since reached a new low. At least the only place to go from here is up.
Fordham Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dereck Whittenburg Released from Contract [Fordham University]