At a press conference today Athletic Director Mario Moccia confirmed Chris Lowery will not return as the head coach of Saluki basketball next season.
Lowery was relieved of his duties in a meeting with Moccia shortly after the 66-51 loss Thursday to Indiana State in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
“There was a definite decline in our academics for several semesters,” Moccia said. “We certainly had poor player retention, for many (recruiting) classes, and I think that led us to some of the situations we’re in today.”
Moccia said there was a decline in season and single-game ticket sales in recent years, and the department lost $500,000 dollars in the last two years, along with $200,000 dollars from the athletic scholarship fund.
The team was informed about the firing shortly before Moccia’s 3:30 p.m. meeting with the press. Lowery and the assistant coaches traveled separately from the players after the game Thursday.
Lowery said after the game Thursday that he expected to be retained as head coach.
“I’ve been here a long time, in different capacities, and I would like to see this thing turned around because I am competitive and I’m not a quitter,” Lowery said.
Lowery still had two years left on a contract that paid him $750,000 a year, and Moccia said they haven’t discussed the terms of a buyout yet with Lowery’s agent.
“I’m always going to be loyal to SIU, no matter what. Business is business…and I’m going to handle myself with integrity,” Lowery said. “I’m not going to blow up, I’m not going to belittle anything that has to do with SIU because that’s not me.”
Akeem Glaspie contributed to this report.