BREAKING: Edwards out at Wyoming
LARAMIE -- Allen Edwards is out as Wyoming's head basketball coach.
After months of speculation, Edwards was fired Monday after leading the Cowboys to an overall record of 60-75 over the last four seasons in Laramie. During Edwards' tenure, Wyoming won just 26 Mountain West Conference games in 49 tries, and finished the 2019-20 season with a record of 7-23 and a 2-16 mark in league play.
Edwards, 44, has one year left on his contract, which consists of a base pay of $220,008 a season, plus 290,000 in other guaranteed compensation.
“I appreciate the contributions that coach Edwards has made to Wyoming basketball as a head coach and prior to that as an assistant coach, but after the lack of success the past two seasons I believe it is in the best interest of our program to make a change at this time,” said UW Athletic Director Tom Burman said in a news release from the school. “We were all very proud of the performance by the Cowboys at last week’s Mountain West Tournament, and I wanted to take some time to consider the future of our program after the emotion of last week. After considering all factors, we have not seen the type of on-court success we expect at Wyoming. We have a rich basketball tradition, and we need to return Cowboy Basketball to a prominent position in the Mountain West Conference.
“I want to thank coach Edwards for the way he mentored the young men in his program. He and his staff did many good things in the community. I also want to thank his family for all they have done for UW and the community. They have always represented our athletics department and the university in a first-class manner. We wish the Edwards family all the best in their future.”
A national search for a head coach will begin immediately, per the release.
The Cowboys entered the conference tournament last Wednesday as the 11th seed. They knocked off Border War rival Colorado State in the opener, and upset No. 3 Nevada in the quarterfinals. Wyoming gave eventual MW Champion Utah State all it could handle in the semifinals, falling 89-82.
That run was courtesy of 11 underclassmen and two seniors.
Unfortunately for Edwards, the damage was already done.
Dwindling attendance inside the Arena-Auditorium has been an issue over the past two seasons. Wyoming averaged roughly 2,000 fans per game inside its 15,000-seat venue during the 2019-20 campaign.
The victories inside the "Dome of Doom" were far and few between, too. The Cowboys won just four games at home this season. In 2018-19, UW won only six games in Laramie.
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Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman said during the offseason that "dramatic improvement" was needed this season.
After the Cowboys squandered a 19-point, second-half lead in February against Border War rival, Colorado State, Edwards said this about his future at UW.
“I go to sleep fine every night because I’m doing it the right way and bringing in the right kids,” he said. “No issues off the floor. Doing great in school. And they have great attitudes. So if you’re talking about building something, I think that’s how you build it. If we’re saying we just want to win, then maybe (I’ll be gone). But that’s just not who I am. I’m trying to do it the right way.”
Wyoming has not finished with back-to-back single-digit win seasons since 1972-74.
A CBI Championship in 2016-17 highlighted Edwards' career at UW. Wyoming finished his first season 23-15 overall and 8-10 in conference play. The following season, the Cowboys went 20-13 and won 10 league games, including a double-overtime victory over No. 23 Nevada.
Edwards became the first head coach in UW history to win 20-plus games in each of his first two seasons.
Justin James, a four-year starter and second round NBA Draft pick in 2019, was another bright spot in Edwards career as a head coach. Edwards was an assistant at UW under Larry Shyatt from 2011-16. He coached 2015 NBA first round draft pick, Larry Nance Jr., and helped lead UW to a Mountain West Tournament title the same season.
Saturday night, some of Edwards' current players took to social media to express their feelings about the head coach that just led them to the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Edwards won two National Championships as a shooting guard for the Kentucky Wildcats under Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith in 1995-96 and 1997-98, respectfully. Edwards has been a college coach since 2003 after a brief stint in the Continental Basketball Association.
Edwards is the 21st head coach in Wyoming history.