The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

SMU unexpectedly fires athletic director weeks after hiring of Larry Brown

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Steve Orsini, left, SMU President R.Gerald Turner, center, and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith pose …

In Steve Orsini's tenure as SMU athletic director, he revitalized the football program by hiring June Jones, he orchestrated the school's move to the Big East and he landed Larry Brown after an admittedly meandering, overambitious basketball coaching search.

Surely that success earned him a contract extension, right? Uh, apparently not.

In a move that apparently surprised even those within the athletic department, SMU announced Thursday afternoon that it has fired Orsini with three years left on his contract. The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday evening that a growing clash between Orsini and school president R. Gerald Turner led to the termination.

"After several discussions over the last few weeks it became apparent to me that it was necessary to make this change," Turner said in a statement released by the school. "While we both are committed to the support of our student-athletes and coaches, a unified effort is required for future progress."

The most bizarre aspect of Orsini's firing is the timing of it.

If Turner had lost faith in Orsini's ability to lead SMU's athletic department, why let him lead the school's search for a new basketball coach that culminated in the hiring of Brown less than a month ago? Orsini did bungle the search by going after unattainable candidates like Marquette's Buzz Williams and Harvard's Tommy Amaker, yet he also salvaged things by making a splashy, albeit controversial hire.

Ultimately, it appears the falling out between Turner and Orsini must have escalated in the past few weeks. We may never know what happened between the two administrators, but chances are it wasn't an amicable parting.

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