Chuck Long has been on the coaching hot seat all season. He just completed his 3d season with a 2-10 record and 9-27 in his tenure. At nearly any 1-A school that would be enough to get a coach fired.
At San Diego State, there was no doubt that they wanted to fire him. The issue was money. Or specifically, the lack of it in the Aztec Athletic Department. Long has two years left on his contract and a buyout would run about $1.4 million. The athletic department has been running a deficit for the past couple of years. The general fund of the school has been forced to give the department money to cover the shortfalls.
The lease with Qualcomm Stadium expired, and the City of San Diego wants a deal where it won't lose money. So that means more money the athletic department will have to find to cover that for next year when they finally hammer out a new lease.
The Aztec Athletic Department, however, has had some good economic news in the last couple of days.
A committee has recommended the raising of student fees from $190 to $350 to help the athletic department budget. The increased fees will provide an additional $4.5 million to the athletic department. Some would go to fund a couple new athletic programs but the majority would go to cover the budget.
The other good news was Utah on its way to a BCS Bowl. The cut SDSU gets as a member of the Mountain West comes to about $500,000.
Feeling flush with cash, the athletic department could move on Long. Specifically, they could fire him today. Technically, they won't be using any of the state funds to pay off Long, according to the school president. He stated that the program had raised more than $1 million in private donations towards Long's buyout.
That's really just accounting manipulation. At least some of the donations presumably would have gone to the athletic department and football program regardless of Long's status. Additionally, the student fees don't count as state funds. The athletic department could not have made a move on changing coaches without the other income projected to come into the athletic department.
For a healthy program, the firing of Long would be a no-brainer. He has done a bad job. Regardless of the injuries and the hole he started in when he got there. 9-27 is hideous.
The Aztec job, however, is not a good job. Regardless of the beautiful city and the fertile recruiting base, SDSU has a lot of limitations. There is an apathetic fanbase that has only gotten worse as the program has slid further into oblivion. The team plays off-campus in a pro stadium that has little going for it. The athletic department has been an economic basket case for years, and it isn't clear whether the new cash infusion will stabilize in the long-term or is just a band-aid fix.
SDSU Fires Chuck Long and Student Fees Are Raised to Make It Happen originally appeared on NCAA Football FanHouse on Sun, 23 Nov 2008 22:35:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.