TULSA, Okla. -- John Phillips resigned Saturday as Tulsa's
basketball coach after a sharp decline in the program's performance
since he took over.
After leading the Golden Hurricane to consecutive NCAA
tournament appearances in his first two seasons, Phillips' team
struggled to a 9-20 finish last season and he began this season
with expectations that he return the program to its earlier
success. Instead, the Golden Hurricane started the season 2-5.
"The last couple of months have been very difficult for me, my
family and the players," Phillips said in a statement.
"Sometimes, change can bring about growth. My hope is that all TU
fans will support the players through the remainder of the season
and we will all witness tremendous progress."
Athletics director Judy MacLeod said assistant coach Alvin
Williamson would take over as interim coach. She said she hoped
fans would rally around the players and coaches to as they had in
the past to help "put Tulsa basketball in the national
"Obviously, this is not the way that I envisioned becoming a
head coach," said Williamson, who also played at Tulsa. "Coach
Phillips has been very influential in my coaching career. As
coaches we're going to put our entire energy into this basketball
team and our next opponent."
Williamson, 31, is in his fourth season on the Tulsa coaching
staff after previous stints as an assistant at Tulane, Illinois
State and Washington State.
"Coach Phillips has helped me progress as a basketball coach,
and he has helped these basketball players grow as young men and
players," Williamson said. "We will do everything possible to
continue instilling the values of hard work, teamwork and unity. We
have a great basketball tradition to uphold at Tulsa, and we will
work diligently to keep it."
In April 2001, Phillips inherited a program that had been
strengthened as Tubby Smith, Bill Self and Buzz Peterson used Tulsa
as a steppingstone to the next level. Smith left to coach at
Kentucky, Self at Illinois and later Kansas and Peterson moved on
Tulsa went to the NCAA tournament six of the eight seasons
before Phillips took over.
With a roster of players mostly recruited by Self and Peterson,
Phillips led the Golden Hurricane to a NCAA tournament berth and a
27-7 record in his first season. The Golden Hurricane lost to
Smith's Kentucky team in the second round of the NCAA tournament
The next year brought a Western Athletic Conference tournament
title and another trip to the NCAA tournament. Tulsa upset
fourth-seeded Dayton in the first round, but lost to Wisconsin in
the second round on a last-second 3-pointer.
Phillips' run of success ended there as Tulsa struggled to a
9-20 record last season.
It was Tulsa's first 20-loss season in 16 years and the first
time the program had missed postseason play entirely since 1998.
The Golden Hurricane opened this season with a loss to Wright
State, then suffered a 23-point defeat against crosstown rival Oral
Roberts. The final straw was a 91-85 home loss Tuesday against
Lamar -- a team that hadn't won a road game in more than a season.
Phillips finished with a 61-42 record at Tulsa.