After eight seasons at the helm of the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, coach Marnie Dacko will not return to the team next season – surprising news to both Dacko and her players.
UMass Athletic Director John McCutcheon announced yesterday afternoon that her contract would not be extended after its expiration on April 10 and that a committee would be formed to begin the search for her replacement.
“We want to thank Marnie for all of her contributions to the program and the University of Massachusetts,” McCutcheon said through an official press release. “We feel there has not been the competitive progress that we have been looking for and that a change was necessary. We will be initiating a national search immediately. The announcement of the members of the consultative committee will be released shortly.”
Amongst the Minutewomen, as well as to Dacko, the decision came as a shock according to sophomore Nicole Jones. Jones, along with seniors Kim Benton and Diatiema Hill, spent time with Dacko at her house yesterday after hearing the news.
“She’s just really shocked by it, she just told us how rude [McCutcheon] was about it,” Jones said of Dacko’s response. “It was like he didn’t have a heart about it, he just cold-hearted fired her.
“We all just can’t believe it, and we’re just so disappointed and mad and upset because she was fired. We just really can’t believe it,” said Jones.
After spending a couple of hours with Dacko, Jones and the rest of the Minutewomen met with McCutcheon so he could tell them of his decision, but at that time the players had all ready heard the news.
“We had a meeting with [McCutcheon] for him to formally tell us that Marnie got fired,” Jones said of the meeting. “He basically just told us she was fired even though we all ready knew because it was on the website. The way we found out was just so wrong; he wouldn’t even let her come tell us herself. It was just wrong.”
With the decision being an unpopular one amongst the players, many of them plan to use next week’s spring break to help ease the pain and then move on from there.
“Everyone is just going to use their spring breaks to take our minds off of it and try to think about what really happened and after that we just pretty much have to really stick together and stay a team,” Jones said.
Dacko was hired in 2002 to be the head coach for the Minutewomen and has since posted a 98-135 (.421) record. In 2009-10, Dacko led UMass to an 11-19 over mark and a 5-9 record in the Atlantic 10, good for ninth place in the conference standings.
The Minutewomen reached the A-10 Tournament for the eighth time under Dacko, but for the fifth straight season and seventh time under Dacko, UMass fell in its first game of the tournament. The only victory by the Minutewomen in the A-10 Tournament under Dacko came in 2005 over Duquesne, before they fell in their second game to Xavier.
In the eight seasons with Dacko at the helm, UMass never posted an overall winning record nor did it in conference play. In 2002-03 (14-14) and 2006-07 (17-17), the Minutewomen played to a .500 record, but could not build off the success in the following year.
Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at [email protected]