LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- While this time of year is typically reserved for optimism, upsets, net cuttings and hopefully punching tickets to the NCAA Tournament, the reality is, March is also a time when major decisions have to be made.

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What direction is the program headed?

Are the right leaders in place?

How will you rebuild?

Kayla Ard was asked the latter Sunday night after her Utah State Aggies dropped an 85-49 decision to Boise State in the play-in game of the Mountain West Tournament. Here's her completely unexpected answer:

Ard, who caps her four-year stint in Logan with a 24-90 record (10-62 in conference play), said she was told about the decision postgame right before walking into the bowels of the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas to address the media.


Utah State finished the year 5-25 overall. Ard's Aggies won just two Mountain West games, both on the road, at Nevada and San Jose State. Wyoming swept the season series and claimed 7-of-8 against Ard.

"We appreciate everything Kayla and her staff have contributed to Utah State," USU Vice President and Director of Athletics Diana Sabau said in a statement. "However, it is in the best interest of the program to make a change."

The success of the men's program, which won an outright league title under first-year head coach Danny Sprinkle, probably didn't help matters for Ard and Co.

Sabau said a national search for Ard's replacement will begin immediately.

Utah State could be in the market for a new men's coach in the future, too. Sprinkle's name has already been linked to a soon-to-be opening at the University of Washington after leading the Aggies to a 26-5 overall record during his first season in Logan.

This, of course, would be nothing new for this program.

Utah State has become Steppingstone U of late, watching its last two coaches, Craig Smith and Ryan Odom, hit the bricks for Utah and Virginia Commonwealth, respectively.

We have seen March turnover in these parts, too.

Steve McClain was fired after the 2006-07 campaign, one in which the Cowboys finished two games above .500. Heath Schroyer didn't even make it to March. He was canned in early February of 2011 after Wyoming got off to a 1-8 start in conference play. Larry Shyatt, in his second stint in Laramie, announced his retirement after leading the Pokes to the NCAA Tournament in 2015.

Allen Edwards received his walking papers in 2019 after Wyoming claimed upset victories over Colorado State and Nevada in the Mountain West Tournament. It wasn't enough to make up for a 9-24 season that saw his team win just two conference games.

Wyoming's women's program, as you know, has been a well-oiled machine since Joe Legerski took the reins back in 2003. He coached in Laramie for 16 seasons, highlighted by a WNIT Championship back in 2007. His longtime assistant Gerald Mattinson took over in 2019 before retiring in '22.

Heather Ezell, Mattinson's assistant coach, has been the bench boss in Laramie ever since and will lead her Cowgirls against Boise State tonight in Las Vegas. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. and the game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.

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