COLUMBIA — South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman liked the improvements men's basketball coach Darrin Horn made in academics and character development with the players.
There just wasn’t enough wins and the outlook was bleak.
“We didn’t have the hope out there for the program,” Hyman said.
Hyman fired Horn on Tuesday after four sliding seasons of Gamecock basketball. The team posted fewer victories in each year, bottoming out in the Southeastern Conference this season at 10-21 and 2-14 in the league – its worst record in 20 years in the SEC.
And as much as Hyman was impressed by the team’s off-the-court achievements, he couldn’t ignore the empty seats at games.
“I needed some ammunition” to make the case to keep Horn for a fifth season, Hyman said. “He didn’t give me the ammunition.”
Instead, Hyman recommended Sunday to University President Harris Pastides that change was necessary. Hyman sat down with Horn on Tuesday.
“He’s been in this business,” Hyman said of the meeting. “He understood.”
Hyman discussed the decision in the same room where about 500 fans gathered the day before to watch the women’s basketball team receive its first NCAA bid since 2003. He noted their success, along with the football team that won 11 games last season for the first time and a baseball team that has won back-to-back national championships.
The AD said he wants the school’s fourth high profile sport to operate on that level, too.
“We really do want to have a basketball program that fulfills the aspirations that our board wants – a top 25 program,” Hyman said.
Hyman met with the players after talking to Horn to gauge what they wanted from their next coach. Make no mistake, Hyman said, while he’ll talk to advisors during the search, the final decision would rest with the athletic director. Hyman said he’ll take as much as time as necessary.