Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Collen fired as Arkansas coach
Arkansas coach Tom Collen directs his players during the second half of play against Mississippi State Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas has fired Tom Collen as its women's basketball coach.
Collen spent seven seasons as head coach of the Razorbacks, who did not make it to the postseason this year. He finished his tenure at Arkansas with a 132-90 record overall, but was only 40-68 in SEC games.
"As part of a continuous and thoughtful evaluation of our women's basketball program and its future, I have come to the conclusion a change in leadership is appropriate for our program," Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long said. "Our program has not made the progress necessary to position Razorback women's basketball to challenge for Southeastern Conference championships and consistently compete in the NCAA Tournament. The goals for our women's basketball program remain the same and we will conduct a search to identify a head coach who we believe can help us attain those goals.
"I want to thank Tom and his staff for their hard work and dedication to the Razorback program and to our women's basketball student-athletes. I am appreciative of their efforts on behalf of the University of Arkansas."
Under Collen, the Razorbacks advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and the WNIT four times. Arkansas went 19-11 in Collen's final season, including a 6-10 record in the SEC.
The Razorbacks lost 63-62 to Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday. Arkansas led that game by 10 points with less than five minutes remaining.
Collen had previous head coaching experience at Colorado State and Louisville prior to taking the Arkansas job. He had been an assistant coach with the Razorbacks in the 1990s under Gary Blair.
"I appreciate the opportunity that I have been given at the University of Arkansas and I'm disappointed my time here is coming to an end," Collen said. "I said when I was hired that coming to Arkansas was like coming home and I still believe that. I am grateful to Chancellors (Dave) Gearhart and John White, Jeff Long and Bev Lewis for the opportunity they gave me to return to the University of Arkansas and work with the women's basketball program.
"I am proud that I have poured my heart and soul into making this a great program. The people of the state of Arkansas deserve that. I know that the administration will work hard to secure a great coach and a great leader as they move forward. I wish the administration and, most importantly the players, the best of luck. I know they will be successful in the future."
Long said he will begin a national search for Collen's replacement immediately.