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USF Fires Men's Basketball Coach Orlando Antigua

Orlando Antigua (pictured in January 2016) was fired Tuesday as head coach of the USF men's basketball team after posting a 23-55 record in two and a half seasons.

Just three weeks after hiring new head football coach Charlie Strong, the University of South Florida has fired men's basketball coach, Orlando Antigua.

Antigua was hired in 2014 with much fanfare due to his success recruiting star players as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky.

However, that success never materialized at USF, with the Bulls posting a combined record of 17-48 in Antigua's first two seasons.

The team struggled again this season, going 6-7, including an 0-2 start in the American Athletic Conference. Last year's second leading scorer, Chris Perry, was dismissed from the team last April, and leading scorer Jahmal McMurray transferred out two weeks ago.

In addition, the team is under NCAA investigation for possible academic fraud. Antigua's brother, Oliver, resigned as assistant coach last July after the investigation was announced.

According to Antigua's contract, if he was fired because of the NCAA violations, USF would owe him just one month of his $375,000 base salary. However, the contract states if Antigua is fired with cause, the school owes him that annual base salary until the deal ends.

Antigua was almost midway through a five-year contract that paid him around $900,000 a year with incentives and $25,000 annual increases.

Assistant Coach Murry Bartow will serve as interim head coach. Bartow previously served as head coach for University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1996-2002 and East Tennessee State University from 2003-2015. He has a career head coaching record of 317-238, with four NCAA Tournament and two NIT appearances.

USF athletic director Mark Harlan released a statement Tuesday morning announcing the firing and thanking Antigua for his service.

Dear Bulls Family: At USF Athletics our commitment to excellence is unwavering and central to our mission as highlighted in our strategic plan. After a thorough and deliberate review of our men’s basketball program, a decision has been made to make a head coaching change. I met with Coach Antigua earlier today to inform him of this and to thank him for his service to USF.  We wish Coach Antigua and his family the very best. For the remainder of the season, assistant coach Murry Bartow will serve as interim head coach. We will continue to provide all the resources and support necessary for our student-athletes and coaching staff to have success. A national search to find our next head coach will commence immediately. Please continue to support our men’s basketball team throughout the rest of the season and thank you for your continued support of USF Athletics.   Sincerely, Mark Harlan Director of Athletics

Antigua, 43, came to America from the Dominican Republic as a child. He helped raise his two younger brothers, lived in an abandoned convent in the Bronx after his family was evicted from their apartment while he was in high school, and survived being shot in the head when he was 15 years old.

Antigua graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and became the Harlem Globetrotters' first Latin player, taking the nickname "The Hurricane." After seven years with the Globetrotters, Antigua worked for Pitt's basketball team before joining coach John Calipari's staff, first at the University of Memphis and then Kentucky in 2009.

While working at UK, Antigua also became head coach for the Dominican Republic national basketball team in 2011. He led them to the finals of the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship before qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 35 years in 2012.

Antigua was regarded by many as one of college basketball's premier recruiters, having helped put together five straight number one ranked recruiting classes at Kentucky. The 2014 team, which lost to the University of Connecticut in the National Championship Game, featured five freshmen starters. They were only the second team to start five freshmen to reach the Final Four (University of Michigan, 1992).

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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