University of Washington athletic director Scott Woodward says he’s as disappointed as anybody about the way this season has turned for the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team, but he’s still taking a big-picture view when it comes to assessing coach Lorenzo Romar’s future with the program.
And that has a lot to do with his past.
“I look at the long-term approach to this thing,” Woodward told The News Tribune via telephone on Wednesday afternoon. “Coach Romar has succeeded on all three things we asked him to do — first and foremost, give our kids a great education and make sure they do what they’re supposed to do in the classroom. Coach’s record has been fabulous on that front.”
Woodward, emphasizing that he evaluates “the whole body of work,” also noted Romar’s run of NCAA tournament appearances (2004-06 and 2009-11), and said that for the most part, UW’s players “have been great citizens and great representatives of the university.”
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Asked if it’s safe to assume Romar will coach the Huskies next season, Woodward replied: “Barring disaster, I sure hope so.”
That seems to imply that a change is not likely this year. Still, Woodward said his expectation for the basketball program is the same as for each of UW’s sports teams — “at a minimum we should be making postseason play, and we’ve fallen short the last couple of years,” he said.
The Huskies haven’t played in the NCAA tournament since 2011, and at 3-10 in Pac-12 play with five regular-season games remaining, they are in peril of finishing with their worst conference record since Romar’s first season at UW in 2002-03, when they finished 5-13.
But Woodward offered somewhat of a defense for this season’s misfortune, noting that “circumstances have changed for the worst.”
That’s a reference to the Jan. 26 dismissal of 7-foot center Robert Upshaw, the nation’s leading shot-blocker, which thinned a UW frontcourt that was already missing 6-foot-10 starter Jernard Jarreau. After starting the season with an 11-0 record, the Huskies have won just three of their last 14 games, and have lost seven in a row — circumstances that lead Woodward to call this “kind of a weird season.”
Still, Woodward said: “Coach has my full support. I think he’s doing a tremendous job.
“Lorenzo’s body of work over his career here and what he’s done speaks for itself. He’s been incredibly successful, probably more so than any coach in the history of the UW program, and that goes a long way with me.”
It helps that UW’s six-player 2015 recruiting class is rated by Scout.com as the ninth-best in the nation.
“He’s in this trough period right now of having a few of tough seasons based on circumstances out of his control,” Woodward said. “His recruiting class and what looks to be a very talented youth movement in Seattle-area basketball is going to be good for the University of Washington, and good for Coach Romar.”
Romar’s contract, signed after the 2010 season, runs through March 31, 2020. UW would owe him a lump-sum payment of $4.2 million if it were to terminate the contract before April 1 of this year. That buyout figure decreases to $3.5 million next year and $3.2 million the year after that.