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By Josh Wingrove

The coach of the men’s basketball team was fired last week, leaving the position vacant in the peak of recruiting season.Last Thursday, Patrick Williams called a team meeting after fitness testing and broke the news to his players. “He said that his contract was yearly, so they’d decided not to renew it for him, and that he won’t be back next year,” said guard Brandon Krupa, who was recently named to Ontario East’s all-rookie team.

Williams is the second Rams coach to be fired this year, following the dismissal of hockey coach Ed Kirsten in December. During Williams’s two seasons as head coach, the Rams had a pitiful record of 1-43. Williams’s predecessor, Terry Haggerty, had led the Rams to the playoffs 11-straight seasons, which included a trip to the national championships during the 1998-99 season.

Williams would only say that his experience at Ryerson was “absolutely incredible,” and that he has no regrets. “Ask the people that made the decision,” he said when asked about the nature of the coaching change.

Dave Dubois, program director of Ryerson Sports and Recreation, said he was looking for a more experienced coach to help resurrect the program. “Our record wasn’t that good, so we thought it was best for the team that we made a move,” Dubois said. “Patrick is a great coach, but it’s the overall experience…as a (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) coach, you’ve got to have the whole package.”

Three years ago, Williams was hand-picked by Dubois to replace popular assistant-coach and masterful recruiter Bob Marsh, another coach dismissed by Dubois. Williams was promoted to head coach when Terry Haggerty was hired as Ryerson’s manager of interuniversity sport. Haggerty said he is looking to fill the position soon, although he won’t be coming back to coaching.

“Pretty much you’re looking for someone who can coach and someone who can recruit,” Haggerty said. “Patrick wasn’t as experienced in that.” Williams may have only produced one win in two years, but was popular with his players. “No one expected it. We all thought he’d be back for sure,” Krupa said. “Everyone wanted him to be back…I think they sold him short.” Williams has been described as a players’ coach who believes strongly in giving his players the tools to succeed in life and on the court.

“He said that we ‘lost a coach but we gained a friend,’ and it’s so true. He’s a great guy, and whenever we needed anything, we could call him and he’d help us out for sure,” Krupa said. “It’s tough losing someone like that.” Williams had already recruited two bigger players, one 6-foot-9, and another 6-foot-6. Those were the big men that the team so sorely needed.

“Some of the guys have already applied, so they’ll be coming here to play,” Dubois said. Williams will remain at a marginally reduced salary, as a Development Co-ordinator. He will be responsible for alumni relations, athletics bursaries, and the department’s annual golf tournament.

“He was given the opportunity to do something else here, which he accepted to do. So life goes on,” Haggerty said.

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