By Scott McInnerney
MOBILE, AL – Matthew Graves will not be returning next season as the head coach of the South Alabama Jaguars’ men’s basketball team.
The news came Thursday afternoon after the team fell to Troy in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Wednesday. Athletic Director Joel Erdmann joined Randy and Creg on Sports Drive Thursday to discuss the news.
“We were in the fifth year of our contract, and we just didn’t get where we needed to be,” Erdmann said. “Matthew is a tremendous young man and a tremendous basketball person. He’s ethical and has a deep values system. A lot of things were accomplished off the court, and we just fell a little short on the court.”
In his time at the helm of South Alabama’s basketball program, Graves posted a 65-96 overall record. The Jaguars finished 14-18 for the second straight year.
Since Graves took over, the Jags have only won two games in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and never finished a season with a winning record.
“At the end of the day, I think Matthew has put us in a place where the cupboard is pretty full,” Erdmann said. “There’s some great, young talent in that locker room, and we needed to arrive there quicker in terms of years. I know it is not a case of a program being broken. It just needs a push.”
According to Erdmann, the University of South Alabama is conducting a nationwide search for a new head coach starting immediately.
“I am open-minded,” said Erdmann. “I would always prefer a head coach with a background and recruiting connections. We have had success with assistant coaches who are seasoned enough and ready to move one chair over. Whether it’s an existing head coach or an assistant coach, we’re going to do our best to find the best fit for where we are right now and where we want to go.”
For more, you can listen to the full interview below and tune into Sports Drive weekday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.