Glenn Poshard didn’t exactly give coach Chris Lowery a vote of confidence Monday when he spoke to WSIU Radio’s Jennifer Flath.
“Unfortunately, in the last few years, the (basketball) program has stumbled. There’s no question about that,” Poshard said. “We are certainly losing a considerable amount of our alumni base who supports our athletic programs in the sense that they’re not coming to the games. Attendance is down.”
Those comments follow the Salukis’ 85-42 throttling at the hands of Wichita State Saturday, the largest margin of defeat in SIU history. Poshard said this stretch has been particularly tough because with the decline in attendance, SIU has seen a rise in expenses because of the Saluki Way project and a decrease in funds from the state government.
“I don’t suspect we’ll be able to sustain salaries at that magnitude,” Poshard said in regard to Lowery’s salary of approximately $750,000 a year. “When we signed the contract with coach Lowery (in 2007), the university didn’t face the kinds of state financing problems that it does now.”
Poshard said when the contract was signed in 2007, fans pressured the university to sign Lowery because of his success with the program. The seven-year, $750,000 per year contract was in-line with what other top-tier Missouri Valley Conference coaches earned.
Poshard also said the university is weary of player defections like those of Brandon Wood and Kevin Dillard, who have found success at other Division I programs such as Michigan State and Dayton, respectively. He said there has been discussion of a possible buyout of Lowery’s contract within the administration, but no course of action has been determined yet.
“We want to give him every opportunity that we can to turn this around,” Poshard said in response to a possible buyout of Lowery’s contract. “If, in the judgment of the administration, that’s not going to happen and we can’t get that job done, then it’s entirely possible that we would have to accommodate the contract.”
Lowery said he understands the disappointments with the team, but he wants to keep the players focused on their next opponent.
“Moving forward is the number one thing. We can’t worry about what someone says,” Lowery said. “Everybody’s disappointed. I’m an alum, I’m disappointed. But I’m a part of it, so like I’ve said before, don’t jump off the bandwagon, bleed with us. Get better with us.”
But Lowery said he wouldn’t discuss if administrators talked to him about the possibility of a buyout.
“That’s not a question we need to be talking about right now. We need to be worried about this year’s team and right now,” Lowery said.
Joe Ragusa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 536-3311 ext. 269.