Darrin Horn (US PRESSWIRE)
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The University of South Carolina has fired Darrin Horn as the men's basketball coach.
At a Tuesday news conference, Athletics Director Eric Hyman confirmed the school had relieved Horn of his duties.
The move ends Horn's four-year run leading the Gamecocks' basketball team, a tenure which ultimately saw diminishing returns.
Horn said he sat down with Horn earlier in the day for an evaluation, and informed the coach of his news. Hyman said he recommended to USC President Harris Pastides Sunday that the school move in a different direction.
"This was a very difficult decision," said Hyman. "Darrin has done a good job in areas in which we place great value. Under his leadership our academics have improved immensely, he has run a program of integrity and his student-athletes have represented the university and department appropriately. However, we could not overlook other factors that led to this decision. In the world of college athletics, wins and losses and being competitive in the SEC had to be considered. Recruiting, player development and diminishing fan support also was considered when making a decision like this."
Hyman said he understands that the program didn't succeed, and that was evidenced by the performance on the court.
"I didn't go to the game with blinders on," Hyman said. "You get to a point in time where you have to turn a corner. We didn't turn a corner."
Hyman said Horn was obviously disappointed by the news, but took it with class. "He was apologetic he couldn't get the program turned."
Horn, who was hired by Hyman following a successful turn at Western Kentucky, led the Gamecocks to a National Invitational Tournament appearance in his first year.
In the succeeding years, there were bright spots: a 2010 win over a top-ranked Kentucky team, the school's first-ever win over a number one, and a win over a top 10 Florida team in December of 2010.
However, the team failed to make the postseason in his final three years, and this year, posted a 10-21 overall record--including a 2-14 mark in the SEC.
"You hate to see something like this happen," Hyman said. "Darrin did a lot of positive things for the University of South Carolina."
"First and foremost, I'd like to thank Eric Hyman, Dr. Pastides and the Board of Trustees for the opportunity I've had as the head men's basketball coach at South Carolina for the past four years," said Horn in a written statement released by the school. "I appreciate the Gamecock Nation for its support of the program. My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Columbia and wish nothing but the best for the Gamecocks."
Hyman said he will have to pay Horn $2.4 million to buyout his contract, which he says he will "have to swallow."
"That's the arena we compete in," Hyman said. "We're in the SEC."
To protect the school, Hyman said he has been building up a reserve account for this type of situation. The fund, accoridng to Hyman, contained around $12 million.
Hyman said the school will honor their commitment to the assistant coaches, and will help them as much as he can.
"Our goal for our men's basketball program is the same as all of our athletics programs at South Carolina - to be a nationally-prominent program that battles for championships," Hyman said. "With that in mind, we will begin a national search immediately to find the very best coach possible for the University of South Carolina."
Hyman added that he wouldn't speculate on a successor.