Coach Allen said Good-Bye to HowardBy Jonathan DavisWhen the Howard University Bison lost to the Florida A&M Rattlers 80-56 in the play-in round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament, their season ended with 17 consecutive loses.
But that is not the only thing that they lost. Howard fired men’s basketball coach Frankie Allen, whose record is 52-83 in five seasons at the school, which included a 5-23 overall record this season and a 2-16 record against the MEAC. The Bison went the last eight weeks and two days without a victory, including going winless in the month of February (0-8).
Their last win was at home on January 8 against Morgan State University.
“This was a very difficult decision for the university,” Howard University Athletic Director Sondra Norrell-Thomas told the Washington Post.
“Coach Allen has done some wonderful things during his tenure at Howard. However, our men’s basketball program has not been at the level we expected, and a change in leadership at this time best positions us for success. We feel strongly that our men’s basketball program needs to go in a different direction, and it was obvious to me that the change had to be made now.”
The decision to relieve Coach Allen of his duties was even more of a shock to the players including sophomore forward Jason Trotter. “I was in disbelief,” Trotter said.
“I couldn’t believe he was terminated as a head coach. I found out on Tuesday night after the banquet that he was not going to be with us and it was a long, long bus ride home.”
“I was kind of shocked that it happened so fast,” said sophomore guard Darek “Skip” Mitchell. Before the arrival of Coach Allen, the Bison had a record of 3-52 from 1998-00. The former head coach led Howard to a 10-18 record in his first season. The next year, the Bison had an 18-13, the best season in a decade. They advanced to the MEAC Tournament title game for the first time since 1992 but lost in the title game.
The next two seasons however would see the Bison moving backwards instead of forward, an 11-17 record in 2002-2003, a 6-22 record in 2003-04 and 5-23 this season.Some of the reasons the team didn’t perform well was due to the academic ineligibility of key veterans like junior guard Louis Ford, who missed the final 26 games of the season. The team was also without senior forward Bilal Russell because of an ankle injury.
The teams leading scorer, sophomore forward Cliffone Ault did not play in the final eight games of the regular season because of personal reasons.
“Before Louis Ford and J.Q. (junior forward James McBryde) left, were 2-0, were unbeaten and were in first place,” Trotter said. “After they were ineligible, we fell apart because Louis Ford was our leader.”
Ms. Norrell-Thomas is now in the process of putting together a search committee to select a replacement for Coach Allen. She also told the Washington Post that assistant coaches Dawud Abdur-Rahkman and Aki Thomas will retain their positions with the men’s basketball program. While no timetable is set to find the next basketball head coach for Howard, Thomas did tell the Washington Post, “We know it’s important to have a coach in place. We’re going to do what’s best for the university.”