Stan Heath fired
TAMPA -- USF has fired men's basketball coach Stan Heath, less than 48 hours after the Bulls' season ended at the American Athletic Conference tournament with its ninth defeat in a row.
The school confirmed the dismissal of Heath, 97-130 in seven seasons, in a three-paragraph statement Friday afternoon. Heath said he was informed of the decision Friday by executive associate athletic director Barry Clements, who indicated USF wanted to go in a new direction.
Heath met with new athletic director Mark Harlan for roughly 20 minutes on Thursday, but said Harlan indicated to him he wouldn't be the one deciding on Heath's future. Heath said his assistants have been retained for now.
"I have no hard feelings toward this university, I really don't," Heath told the Tampa Bay Times late Friday afternoon.
"I'm not upset, I'm not bitter. I'm disappointed we didn't get things done the way I wanted them. I wish I would've had one more year, I think we could've gotten there."
Heath, 49, has four years remaining on the contract extension he signed in 2012, shortly after leading USF to the third round of the NCAA Tournament to cap the best season in program history (22-14).
The Bulls have won 24 total games since.
Relying heavily on first-year Division I players this past season, USF (12-20) lost six of its last seven games by 21 total points. In three of those losses, it had second-half leads of at least nine points.
Relegated to an observer throughout that skid was junior point guard Anthony Collins, an offensive catalyst of the '12 team who played in only eight games this season due to lingering effects from offseason knee surgery.
Of the six regulars (excluding Collins) who averaged at least 20 minutes, four were first-year Division I players.
"I know our team was young, I know our team was missing a really key player, but it's somewhat irrelevant," Heath said. "This day in age, it's about winning. They say a lot of different things, but it is about winning. You have to win games."
According to terms of Heath's extension, the school must pay his annual base salary of $375,000 -- about one-third of his compensation -- for the remaining four years for a total of $1.5 million.
The university's announcement of Heath's dismissal included no comment from school officials, but at Tuesday's press conference introducing Harlan, Presiden Judy Genshaft strongly hinted she sought a shake-up with the basketball program.
"It's hard to tolerate mediocrity...especially with a university that's on the move upward," Genshaft said after introducing Harlan.
"Everything else is moving forward except for our revenue sports and we are real confident about (football coach) Willie (Taggart) moving forward and we've got to get our (men's) basketball team moving forward as well."
Public reaction from current Bulls players wasn't immediate, though on his Twitter account Friday afternoon, freshman center Chris Perry said, "Somebody pinch me, this cannot be real."
Whether Heath's son Josh, a freshman point guard who relinquished his redshirt at the dawn of conference play due to Collins' injury, remains at USF is uncertain. Stan Heath said he hasn't yet spoken with his son about his future.
"That's the only thing that's such a bummer," Stan Heath said. "I get compensated pretty good, but my staff, my assistant coaches, their families, my family, those are my biggest worries right now."