Kirk Speraw just passed the all-time win record for any coach in UCF history. Now the Knights' men's basketball coach is looking for another job. The university fired him Monday, citing a need to make a "change in direction."
The announcement from UCF came just days after Speraw had spoken about a bright future building a young team at the school where he'd spent most of his career coaching. He'd amassed a 279-233 record in 17 years as the Knights' head coach.
In a statement immediately following the decision, Athletic Director Keith Tribble praised Speraw for his leadership.
"Coach Speraw has always gone about his position with integrity and class, and we appreciate all he and his staff have contributed to UCF basketball," Tribble said. "This is the right time to make a change in direction."
What that direction is remains to be seen, as the athletic department had kept the decision not to retain Speraw a secret until the day he was let go. No prospective coaches have been announced as his replacement, though Associate Head Coach Mike Jaskulski has been promoted as interim coach.
A change in direction has served as a more vague reason for Speraw's dismissal, though more specific rumors about his inability to move his team upward in the conference have persisted.
In Conference USA play, where the Knights have played since 2005, the Knights have a 40-38 record. This past season they finished 15-17 overall and 6-10 in C-USA.
Tribble cited a need for better recruiting as a quality he was looking for in a future coach, who may be hired in as soon as three weeks.
The Knights fielded one of their youngest teams this season, with all but three of its players ranking as underclassmen.
Only one player will graduate from the program — Drew Speraw, who played for his father for four years at UCF. Despite short court time this season, the younger Speraw proved instrumental in clutch situations on the court.
In his wake a team of rising freshmen and sophomores are expected to play out their second and third seasons in 2010-2011.
This includes two key players who immediately became starters on their new team. Center Keith Clanton and guard Marcus Jordan both improved dramatically over the course of their first season in a Knights uniform. Both players entered the season with slow, nervous performances early on, but by season's end, Speraw had groomed them into team leaders on the court, with the pair frequently alternating as team leaders in scoring or rebounding.
Tribble announced Speraw's firing in a team meeting with all of the players Monday.
"This was not an easy decision, but one we felt will serve in the best interest of our program's direction," Tribble said.