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Alexander: Public votes thumbs down on UCR’s firing of Dennis Cutts

By in Press Enterprise on January 6, 2018

By Jim Alexander

I wonder if UC Riverside athletic director Tamica Smith Jones — or, for that matter, university chancellor Kim Wilcox — understands just what was unleashed a week ago, when Jones fired men’s basketball coach Dennis Cutts in the parking lot after the Highlanders’ return from a road trip.

Or maybe Jones did anticipate how the public would receive this move, considering that she has declined comment beyond the New Year’s Day news release announcing the firing. The timing in itself was a classic “news dump”; i.e., trying to sneak an announcement past a public whose attention would be directed elsewhere.

As previously noted, Jones declined to address the situation with This Space. She also declined an invitation from the ESPN3 crew to appear on-air during Wednesday night’s Highlanders game at Cal State Fullerton.

If she thought the public — those, anyway, who still care about UCR athletics — would let this pass without comment, she was mistaken.

The tenor of reaction received here was 100 percent negative. Supporters of the program are irate over the way the firing was handled, much less the concept that a college basketball coach could be let go at midseason, before the games that really matter — i.e., conference games — take place.

Yes, you can quibble with Cutts’ won-loss record (50-87 in four-plus years) or his coaching methods, and you can assert that he could have gotten more out of the talent he had on hand. But those assessments should be balanced against the limited resources he has at his disposal — as well as the fact that, unlike most college programs in this era, UCR has not had players transferring out of the program the past three seasons.

Do you think current players, as well as committed recruits, will now be reconsidering their loyalty to UCR?

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