UPDATED: Capel's contract not renewed
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State's men's basketball coach Jason Capel said immediately following the Mountaineers loss to Samford in the first round of the Southern Conference Tournament that he was the coach of the team until somebody told him differently.
On Monday, somebody broke the news to him.
Capel's contract as coach of the Mountaineers was not renewed by the university. The decision was made Monday.
Appalachian State athletic director Charlie Cobb, the somebody who broke the news to Capel on Monday, said a new direction was needed.
"We were looking and evaluating the program over the last four years," Cobb said. "We haven't met expectations. Coach (Capel) knows it. I think our kids know it. Certainly I think the Appalachian community knows it. Wins and losses are a big part of that expectation piece."
Capel finishes his four-year tenure at Appalachian State with a record of 53-70. He was also 32-38 in the Southern Conference.
The Mountaineers finished the 2013-14 season 9-21, which is the fewest amount of victories for the program since 2003-04, when the Mountaineers also went 9-21 under coach Houston Fancher.
The Mountaineers had their share of road blocks, none worse than losing leading scorer in 2012-13 Jay Canty to the first 12 games of the season because of academics. He played in the next five games before missing the next six games because of a broken hand.
Canty also did not play in the team's final two regular season games and the SoCon tournament because of suspension.
There were other issues, including inconsistent play from several veteran players, who hurt the Mountaineers. App State also struggled to finish strong in games, including a 66-60 loss at UNC Greensboro where the Mountaineers blew an 18-point lead in the second half.
Capel's winningest season was 2010-11, his first, when the Mountaineers finished 16-15 overall, 10-8 in the SoCon. He also coached App State to a 13-18, 7-11 record in 2011-12 and 15-16, 10-8 in 2012-13.
Appalachian State never won a SoCon division title under Capel, but finished second in 2012-13. The Mountaineers were ninth in the 11-team league this season.
Cobb started the day in Asheville for the induction of former Mountaineers football coach Jerry Moore into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame. He returned to Boone in the afternoon and notified Capel of his decision.
A news release was issued around 5:30 p.m.
"I can't say enough about Jason," Cobb said. "He's a first-class person and a great coach. I told him to day that I really believe in his upside as a coach. It didn't work here. We needed to address it. The reality is there was no Mendoza line he had to get to to keep his job. We just needed to get better in all facets of what we were doing and we weren't there."
Cobb said there will be a national search involving a committee of, "about six to eight people." Cobb said Appalachian State chancellor Kenneth Peacock, who has announced his own retirement, but has stayed on until his replacement can be found, will make the final decision on who the new coach will be.
Cobb said that it will likely take longer to find a new coach than it did to hire Capel, who was hired within a week of Peterson leaving. He also didn't expect it to take as long as it did to hire Peterson when Houston Fancher was fired in 2009.
""We're not going to be on a superfast track," Cobb said. "When you look at the fact that roughly half of college basketball plays in the postseason -- it's a large number of teams -- the Southern Conference plays one of the early conference tournaments, so we have a little time to get organized.
Capel's assistant coaches; Bobby Kummer, Justin Gainey and Kellen Sampson, were also released.
"We want the new coach to decide who is going to be on (his) staff," Cobb said. "At that point, when that decision is made, we're going to leave that up to the new coach."
Cobb said he would like to see the new coach have head coaching experience, even if it's on a lower level of basketball than Division I. Cobb hired women's head coach Darcie Vincent from the Division II ranks, where she won a national championship at California (Pa) University.
Vincent has won two SoCon regular season championships in five seasons at App State.
Capel was hired to replace Buzz Peterson, who after one season after returning to App State, left for UNC Wilmington. Capel was a first-year assistant on that staff, which was his only coaching experience.
Cobb said at the time he valued Capel's experience as a player, especially when Capel played professionally overseas. He also valued the idea of the continuity of hiring one of Peterson's assistant coaches instead of doing a national search.
"The expectations we're going to focus on is someone who has had experience as a successful college head coach," Cobb said. "We'll see if we can identify the proper candidate. I think it's also important to find somebody who is going to engage what I refer to as App Nation. Certainly our fans and our students are an important part of the atmosphere within the Holmes Center."
Cobb said he list of candidates is "evolving," and expected plenty of interest in the position. He said within 12 to 36 hours he will have an idea of who is interested in the position, adding that social media, including Twitter, should publicize the need to fill the position.
Cobb said there was no monetary limit on what the job pays, but acknowledged that it may be more than the $150,000 base salary Capel got in his first season as head coach because the Mountaineers are entering the Sun Belt Conference next season.
He said that the Sun Belt basketball coaches salaries are similar to the Southern Conference salaries. When Capel was hired, Cobb said it was a bit lower than the SoCon's average salary because Capel was a first-time head coach.
Cobb also said the Mountaineers' resources are also deeper because of the move to the new conference, which plays FBS football instead of the Southern Conference, which plays FCS football.
"I don't want to throw a number out there and stick to it, because the right person might walk through the door, but certainly we're going to be competitive," Cobb said. "Part of the excitement for us is in joining the Sun Belt is that there are some additional dollars. We've all talked about travel costs and we've all talked about additional scholarships, especially for football side, but we've also got some additional revenue to offset that. We're going to pay market rate for who we think is the best coach."
Cobb said the athletic department was trying to get in touch with all of the players to tell them the news. Appalachian State is on spring break this week, so the players have all gone home.