March 9, 2018 at 8:46 AM
Kevin Stallings’s tenure as the Pittsburgh men’s basketball coach ended with his dismissal Thursday, and the separation seems to be going about as smoothly as his two disastrous seasons there.
Stallings had four years and around $9.4 million remaining on his contract, which calls for him to receive that amount as a buyout should he be fired without cause. But according to Colin Dunlap, a sports-talk radio host at 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, the school has given Stallings two choices: Accept a reduced buyout of $4.8 million, or be fired for cause (because of his actions during a game this season at Louisville) and get nothing.
During a 77-51 loss to the Cardinals on Jan. 2, Stallings was overheard getting into it with Louisville’s fans.
“At least we didn’t pay our guys $100,000,” Stallings yelled in audio that was picked up by reporters, a reference to the FBI investigation that alleges Louisville conspired with Adidas to funnel $100,000 to the family of a top recruit, leading to the firing of Coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich. “We didn’t pay our guys 100 grand, though.”
Stallings later apologized for the tone of his comments but said he merely was standing up for his players. According to Dunlop, he does not agree that his behavior during that game can be used as justification to fire him for cause.
It was hardly the first bad look for Stallings at Pittsburgh, however. During a 106-51 loss to Louisville in his first season — the largest conference defeat by a home team in ACC history — Stallings was ejected after picking up two technical fouls. Then, during an ACC tournament win over Georgia Tech later that season, a microphone picked up Stallings yelling “Goddammit, would you [expletive] get in the game” at Panthers forward Ryan Luther, as teammate Sheldon Jeter lay injured on the court.
Stallings went 24-41 as the Panthers’ coach, and Pittsburgh was the only Division I team to go winless in conference play this season (0-18 against ACC opponents).
Stallings was an uncomfortable fit at Pittsburgh from the moment he was hired away from Vanderbilt by former athletic director Scott Barnes, who would leave nine months later to take the same position at Oregon State. Pittsburgh’s fans, many of whom never warmed to Stallings in the first place, began to stay away as the team’s fortunes went south. Attendance this year at Petersen Events Center, once one of the rowdiest arenas in all of college basketball, plummeted as the 8-24 Panthers failed to win at least 10 games for the first time since 1976-77.
According to Yahoo’s Pete Thamel, Pittsburgh is expected to target Rhode Island Coach Dan Hurley to replace Stallings in an attempt to reverse the fortunes of a program that once was an NCAA tournament mainstay (13 appearances in 15 seasons under Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon from 2002 to 2016).