UNC Charlotte fires veteran basketball coach Bobby
1:00 pm
Tue March 16, 2010

UNC Charlotte fires veteran basketball coach Bobby Lutz

It's the end of an era at UNC Charlotte. Men's basketball Coach Bobby Lutz has been fired after 12 years on the job.

The firing of Lutz wasn't only made in the athletic department. Chancellor Philip Dubois was also involved.

"The record in the last five years since I've been here - we've gone to the NIT twice, but we've not gone three times and that by definition says you're out of the top 97 teams in the country and maybe even more than that," said Dubois. "For the investment we've made in athletics and the investment specifically in basketball we have to be better than the top third."

The 49ers have failed to make it to the postseason for two years in a row. The team started off this past season strong, but then lost seven of its last eight games before finishing 19-12. Athletic Director Judy Rose pointed out that it's been five years since the 49ers last made the NCAA Tournament.

"We haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 04-05. That's a pretty long dry spell. When you'd look before we were going fairly regularly," said Rose. "Now, do I expect us to go to the NCAA tournament every year? No. I'd love for that to happen, but that's not the level of expectation. But it is the level of expectation that we get there on somewhat of a regular basis."

That dry spell coincided with the 49ers leaving Conference USA for the stronger Atlantic 10 conference. Before then, Lutz led Charlotte to the NCAA Tournament five times in seven years.

Lutz was also popular among the student body. Junior student Brett Rowland says he's disappointed Lutz is leaving.

"He's a very classy guy, very friendly outside the basketball court. You meet him he'll talk to you. I'm actually an exercise science major and he came and spoke to our classvery stand-up guy," says Rowland.

After the university's press conference, Lutz took questions from reporters outside the athletic department building. He started off in his usual good-natured way.

"How's everybody?" he asked. "Nobody died today."

Lutz said coaching men's basketball at UNC Charlotte was always his dream job.

"It's been a wonderful opportunity for me and my family and I don't regret it," said Lutz. "I don't regret not leaving when I had a chance, or pursuing other jobs, because this is where I wanted to be. Obviously I would've liked to continue to coach here. But I'm not bitter, I'm really not."

Lutz said he didn't ask why the university decided to fire him, but he asked administrators to give him one more year to turn the team around.

It's not a total loss for Lutz. He still has four years left on his contract. The university owes him $948,000 unless he finds another college coaching job during that time.

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