WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

K.C. Keeler firing: Did you see it coming? Deserved?

As most everyone knows, sports is not my bailiwick, and I decry what I see as an overemphasis on competitive athletics (particularly football and basketball) at both the high school and college levels.

That said, I can't help but post on the University of Delaware's abrupt, out-of-the-blue, firing of head football coach K.C. Keeler.

Did ANYONE see this coming? Especially now? Did Keeler deserve this? Did Keeler become the sacrificial hen for a disgruntled fanbase, upset with the university's attempts to wrest more money from season ticket-holders, despite a substandard stadium?

(One must concede, however, the Hens' downward trajectory of late, notably the four-game losing streak, although injuries and inexperience explain a lot. Some saw little evidence K.C. was going to turn it around. Still, like Tubby Raymond, by all evidence, K.C. ran a clean, quality program.)

However, the most inexplicable part of this entire episode: To sack the coach in the very middle of recruiting season. Rival coaches might sway tentative Delaware recruits by pointing to the current uncertainty in the program.

Pardon my use of a mild expletive, but this wouldn't be the first time the university made a half-assed move (if it turns out to be).

I sense a growing alienation in some quarters towards the University of Delaware, whether it be the downgrading of men's cross-country and outdoor track & field (under investigation by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights); the aforementioned squeeze on season ticket-holders; and more generally, the admissions gambit which seems to favor higher-paying, out-of-state students.

Anyone visiting the U.D. campus sooner or later sees the gleaming new interdisciplinary science & engineering building that has gone up along Academy Street. At some level, the concept makes a lot of sense for this new millennium, as Delaware and America compete with the world in those vital areas. But to some folks, that new edifice is a visual reminder of the University's priorities -- squeezing students with tuition and faculty with compensation - and arguably Patrick Harker's ego.

Lastly, the fact that the University wants to have its cake and eat it two: Functioning as a "public" university when that's to its advantage, and as a "private" university when that suits it.

Lest we forget, U.D. President Dr. Patrick Harker is listed as the 12th best compensated, "public" university president in the nation (although he did take a pay cut in acknowledgement of the recession).

Posted at 7:05am on January 8, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 10:25am
Allan, seeing you take on a sports issue is certainly different, and I’ll say, refreshing. After my Fighting Irish went down to defeat last night because they forgot how to tackle, I am in a sports-complaining mood.
The passenger sitting next to me on the train this morning had the paper open to the Keeler firing. The folks behind us were commenting on the story while reading over his shoulder. This story and the BCS game were the main topics this morning. Keeler’s story generated the most surprise. The coach is not the only one shocked by this step.
Newark-area fans are very displeased with the University of Delaware to begin with, and the performance of the football team is generating more unrest. Longtime season ticket-holders have had to drop the tickets as the cost for attending games has risen out of reach. As the performance has not matched the cost, something had to change. When players underperform, it is the coach who pays the price.
The timing was not an accident. Coinciding with the BCS contest, it caught the audience while they were talking football. The story is front-page news for the News-Journal and WDEL.com. Coming during recruitment season, it will tell prospective players the U of D is taking steps to turn the program around. But it sends another message to fans. Since the administration cannot give a good reason for the firing, it tells the fans the University just wants to hurt someone else. The fact no one saw this coming is troubling. They have long hurt the students, particularly in-state ones. Classroom attendance sheets do not just list names. They also list in-state or out-of-state. Guess why! They were doing that even back in the 1970’s. But shafting Keeler sends a very public message of hurt. They will get away with it, of course. But it is a bad PR move.

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 7:24pm
Now that K.C. is freed up, he should be considered for the Eagles head coach position to replace Andy Reid if he so desires to apply.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 8, 2013 10:37pm
JimH: Well said.

The U of D as it used to be called (really dislike that UD thing) ceased to be a public university years ago. The taxpayers of Delaware foolishly keep paying taxes, even a little bit, to a college that has no real interest in serving Delaware residents as students. They want to become a big-shot university and that takes money, so out-of-staters are preferred (so let their home states give taxpayers' money to the U of D, at least their students benefit).

Time to cut them off from the state of Delaware tax trough. Now which state Rep and State Senator in Dover will have the "kahoona's" to propose such legislation?

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 2:57am
I listened up and down the airwaves on this topic, and came away after hearing quite a few callers, that Harker got the idea to fire his head coach because the Eagles had just made news by firing Andy Reid... Crazy as that sounds, it almost makes the most sense, because nothing else does.

Ironically KC was fired for his record, which as Rick Jensen pointed out, was improving, but firing now in the middle of the recruitment season means no one is recruiting, and next year, a new coach will only give us a 2-10 season. (Still betting on beating West Chester and Delaware State).....

This glitch tells us this was a closely-guarded secret, and no one else knew; it obviously was not brought up to any roundtable, otherwise a consensus would have developed that now was the wrong time. Therefore, it becomes even more probable that Harker fired him if only just to not look weak and acquiescent should he be compared against the Eagles...

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 7:05pm
Thank God it's only sports!

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 5:00am
Just did some research and found he still has five years left on his contract. I think the university will have to pay up.

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 2:26pm
Harker could pay Keeler the five years out of his own salary and still, never feel it...

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 6:25am
UD is very similar to a beach resort. It makes the bulk of its money from out-of-state tourism as the natives rarely use the facilities.

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