USA Athletic Director Joel Erdmann talks Ronnie Arrow retirement during impromptu press conference

December 20, 2012 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's 

South Alabama athletic director Joel Erdmann during Wednesday’s basketball press conference Photo Credit: Matt Weaver | Special to Thunderjags

It’s somewhat ironic that South Alabama men’s basketball head coach Ronnie Arrow would choose to retire following a game in which his team defeated Texas A&M: Corpus Christi – the team that Arrow coached in between stints at the University of South Alabama.

In a move that can only be described as sudden, Arrow has asked and was granted his release as head coach of the Jaguars on Wednesday morning during a scheduled meeting with Athletic Director Joel Erdmann. As a result, assistant coach Jeff Price has taken over as interim head coach with a national coaching search to take place at the end of the season.

“It’s not entirely unheard of for a head coach to step down in the middle of a season,” Erdmann explained on Wednesday during a press conference. “He expressed a desire to retire, and I have accepted that notice of retirement, effective immediately.”

Arrow spoke to his players early on Wednesday morning and the team was “quite surprised,” according to Erdmann.

The Athletic Director followed that meeting by talking to the players separately where he told the team that a change in leadership will not change the goal of this season. He asked that the players continue to work toward a conference championship and securing a post-season berth.

“I think part of the formula and consistency moving forward is Jeff Price,” Erdmann said. “I can’t undervalue the amount of respect I have for him. The players have respect for him and I think the players will rebound and recover under Jeff’s leadership.”

Neither Arrow nor Price attendedWednesday’s press conference but the USA AD confirmed that Price would be considered for the full-time job next season if that was something he was interested applying for.

Erdmann admitted that the timing was indeed odd but would not confirm if Arrow’s decision was performance-based. South Alabama began the season on a high note, defeating nationally-ranked Florida State University, 76-71 on Nov. 9 in Tallahassee.

But the rest of the season has been marred by inconsistency with the Jaguars losing three-straight during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Atlanta as well another two-game skid to New Mexico State and UAB. However, South Alabama remains undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play, holding victories over Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

“Decisions like this are often personal in nature and I have an obligation to recognize that and move forward,” Erdmann said.

When asked if Arrow was retiring from the game of basketball, Erdmann paused and simply said, “He’s retiring from his position as head coach of South Alabama men’s basketball.”

Arrow has an overall record of 211-161 at USA, including a 112-84 mark in Sun Belt games. He’s been selected as the Conference Coach of the Year on three occasions and led USA to its only NCAA Tournament victory, a dramatic 86-84 victory over the University of Alabama on March, 17, 1989.

“Ronnie has a great history here and we have a great deal of respect for him,” Erdmann said.

Jeff Price will retain Arrow’s staff for the remainder of the season. The Jaguars’ next game is a home league contest versus West Conference leading Arkansas Little Rock. That game will be played this Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2:05 p.m.

Quotables:

Erdmann on the team’s chances for the rest of the season:

“We’re still 5-5 and 2-0 in the conference. We have perhaps…one of the best players in the league and a great supporting cast. This team has battled through moments of inconsistency that has led to what we can consider disappointing losses but we have a real potential for a post-season berth.”

Erdmann on Arrow’s second stint as South Alabama head coach:

The circumstances of the second hire can be seen as unique. I believe he was hired to take what was a veteran team to the post-season and that’s what he was able to accomplish.

On college basketball in Mobile and recruiting opportunities:

Unquestionably, we have a very recruitable city.  We have a recruitable region, facilities – and we have the potential to have an amazing crowd environment.

We need to sell more tickets but we’ve done a great job recently of attracting the student body to our games and I think that is only going to continue.

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