The Associated Press and ESPN reported last night that Michigan basketball coach Brian Ellerbe will be dismissed today, although Athletic Director Bill Martin told The Michigan Daily the decision “will be made as soon as possible” and that he “didn”t have any idea where the reports are coming from.”
ESPN said lawyers for the University and Ellerbe were negotiating a buyout last night on the coach”s contract.
Some players were more open to the idea of a new coach then others. Star forward LaVell Blanchard often said that he expected more from his experience at Michigan.
But last night freshmen Bernard Robinson expressed support for his coach.
“I”m disappointed,” Robinson said. “I wish he was still here. He”s the reason I”m here.”
The University will have to pay Ellerbe close to $450,000 for the remaining three years of his contract it will not have to pay him for income lost from camps, Nike, television or other endorsement deals.
Recently, the president of the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as other minority leaders questioned whether or not he was treated fairly.
Robert Sellers, a black member of Michigan”s Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics has asked for Ellerbe to receive one more year.
“I think at this point for Brian Ellerbe (to be fired) would be unfair,” Sellers said. I think it would be sending the wrong message.”
Robinson doesn”t think the NAACP should get involved but would like to see his coach get one more year to win.
“I don”t think he got a fair shake,” Robinson said. “He was never able to develop a team and none of that was his fault. Add Jamal Crawford and Kevin Gaines to this team and we would have a really good team.”
Crawford starred for Michigan last year before the NCAA suspended Crawford for violating its amateurism rule, while Gaines was kicked off the team at the start of this season for “repeatedly violating team rules,” as Ellerbe said.
Freshman center Josh Moore said the team had not been contacted and that the players have not set up a meeting yet.
“He”s the guy that brought me here,” Moore said. “I can”t say for sure that I”m going to stay. I can”t say for sure that I”m going to leave.
“Saying that you”re going to change the system on me after a year is like saying I”m going to have my freshman year all over again.”
Michigan is 62-60 under Ellerbe and 37-51 over the last three seasons. The Wolverines, who were 10-18 overall and 4-12, lost 82-80 to Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday.
After the loss, Ellerbe said “I fully expect to coach this basketball team next year.
Ellerbe continued, “I think the University has been fair. We haven”t excelled the way we”d have liked to the last four years. But we”ve also been under some difficult situations.”
Ellerbe was originally hired as an assistant by his predecessor, Steve Fisher, for his ability to recruit the East Coast.
Before coming to Michigan, Ellerbe was an assistant coach at Virginia and the head coach at Loyola, Md., where he was 34-47.
This season was Michigan”s worst since the 1981-82 campaign and this three-year stretch has been the program”s worst since the mid-“60s.
Candidates to replace Ellerbe include Rick Pitino, Seton Hall”s Tommy Amaker, Kentucky”s Tubby Smith and Oklahoma”s Kelvin Sampson.
It has been reported that officials from the Athletic Department have contacted Pitino and Amaker.