Oregon’s Kent won’t comment on status

Oregon coach Ernie Kent would not comment about a report Saturday

night that he has already been fired before his 13th season with

the Ducks ended.

With 12 minutes remaining in the Ducks’ 74-66 win over

Washington State in the final Pacific-10 Conference game at

McArthur Court, Eugene’s KVAL-TV reported that Oregon athletic

director Mike Bellotti told Kent he would not return as coach next

season on Feb. 22.

Bellotti said he would make his decision on Kent’s status

“around the (Pac-10) tournament,” which begins Wednesday in Los

Angeles.

“I have no comment about that,” Bellotti said as he left the

building Saturday night. “Ernie and I have talked and we will

continue to talk and that’s it.”

Kent, who played at Oregon from 1973-77, deflected questions

about his reported firing following the game. He repeatedly changed

the subject toward his seniors and his former coach Dick Harter,

who was honored before Thursday’s game.

“I have an ability to drown out noise,” Kent said. “I’ve not

heard of no report. I’m talking about Tajuan Porter and Dick

Harter. I don’t know why you guys won’t listen to me on that

because it’s their week and their day.”

Kent, 55, has led the Ducks to a school-best 234-172 record,

and he is the longest tenured Pac-10 coach. He has taken Oregon to

the NCAA tournament five times, but the team has finished in 10th

and ninth place, respectively, over the last two seasons.

“He’s been going through that his whole career so we support

him,” said Porter, a senior. “Hopefully they bring him back because

I think he deserves to coach at least one more year in the new

arena. We love him to death.”

Oregon junior guard LeKendric Longmire also expressed his

admiration for Kent and said he hopes to play for him next season

in the Ducks’ new $227 million arena that is scheduled to open for

the start of the 2010-11 Pac-10 season.

“We all want to see coach here,” Longmire said. “We’re all

aware of everything that’s going on with him and media. I just feel

like he’s done a good job. He’s had two down years, but you always

want to win for your coach. He’s like a father figure to many of us

who are from single parent homes. That means a lot to us.”

Porter, a Detroit native, credits Kent with giving him an

opportunity to play at Oregon when many Division I programs did

not.

“He’s an unbelievable coach,” Porter said. “The media bash

him a lot. The fellow people around Eugene bash him because his

team’s not doing well. But he’s a strong man. He keeps coming back.

He’s never changed, he’s never quit on us.”