BATON ROUGE, La. — John Brady was fired as LSU’s men’s basketball coach Friday with his team struggling at 8-13, a dismissal that left him in tears at a farewell news conference.
“I’ve coached in the best league in the country and I’ve coached a lot of great guys,” Brady said during the afternoon news conference with LSU Tigers athletic director Skip Bertman. “They’ve done some great things that had not been done here in a long time.”
Brady is the third-winningest coach in the university’s history. His 192-139 record included two first-place finishes in the SEC and a trip to the 2006 Final Four.
But after that 27-9 finish, the team fell to 17-15 last season, with a 5-11 conference mark, and things got worse this season, with just one win in seven SEC games.
Associate head coach Butch Pierre will take over for the rest of the season.
Brady’s wife sobbed openly during the news conference while Brady spoke haltingly, wiping away tears by the end of a long, sometimes rambling statement. He noted that he inherited an LSU program 10 years ago that was facing stiff penalties for NCAA violations and that it was on probation when he won his first SEC championship in his third year.
“Under those circumstances it’s a pretty good 10-year run,” Brady said.
Brady said he was too competitive to quit but respected Bertman’s decision to dismiss him.
Bertman said he was concerned about falling attendance at home games, but that “the ultimate reason John was fired was not attendance. They just didn’t win enough games.”
Still, while women’s basketball game attendance has grown to more than 6,000 fans per game, men’s basketball is averaging just 8,240 this year, Bertman said. Season-ticket sales remained at about 7,000 even after the trip to the Final Four.
“I wouldn’t blame the basketball coach for attendance,” Bertman said. “They won 18 games in a row there and attendance did not increase.”
Bertman said he had planned to fire Brady after Saturday’s game against Tennessee, which would put LSU at the midway point in its SEC schedule. But he moved it up because he was afraid word of the dismissal would leak to Brady or the team.
Bertman, who is retiring June 30, will hire a search firm to help find a new coach.
Bertman said he would not contact any potential coach until the season, and if necessary the postseason, is over.
Brady has three years left on his contract. Bertman said Brady will get his base salary of $300,000 a year unless he is hired somewhere else.
Brady had replaced longtime coach Dale Brown, who finished his career with four losing seasons and a bitter NCAA investigation.
The NCAA found that a former booster paid player Lester Earl about $5,000 while he was attending LSU. The Tigers were placed on probation in 1998, lost three scholarships, and were restricted on how the remaining scholarships could be given.