Penn fires basketball coach Miller after 0-7 start

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

Glen Miller did more than lose games at Penn. He struck the wrong chord with fans and alumni from the day he was hired because he had no previous connections to the Ivy League school.

When losses piled up and attendance dipped at the famed Palestra, Miller was on his way out.

Pennsylvania fired Miller on Monday after the Quakers dropped their first seven games, a rare early-season college basketball coaching change for a program that not long ago was a regular in the NCAA tournament.

``This is not simply about the performance of the team this year,'' athletic director Steve Bilsky said. ``This really is about a sense of direction and leadership. Where we were at this point indicated it was time to make a change and this was the time to do it.''

The Quakers replaced Miller on an interim basis with former school great Jerome Allen, who served under Miller as an assistant coach.

Miller was 45-52 overall since being hired in 2006 to replace the departed Fran Dunphy. In his first season, Miller led the Quakers to a 22-9 record and an NCAA tournament appearance, but Penn has declined steadily since.

``I know he really wanted to come here and make a mark, and I know he's disappointed,'' Bilsky said.

After seven seasons at rival Brown, Miller replaced Dunphy when he left to take over at Temple for retired Hall of Fame coach John Chaney.

Miller twice helped the Bears set a school record for wins in a season but was never able to secure a NCAA tournament berth.

His ties to Brown, a losing record there, and the unenviable task of replacing the wildly successful and popular Dunphy all worked against Miller from the outset.

Reached via phone by the Associated Press on Monday, Miller declined to comment.

``Right now, I think it's in my best interests not to say anything,'' he said.

A roster of Dunphy's recruits put Penn in the tournament for the sixth time this decade in 2007. Miller's record dipped to 13-18 and then 10-18 last season amid grumbling that he wasn't outgoing enough for the tough-to-please alumni.

Bilsky, who decided to fire Miller last week, said Penn basketball represented more than just another sport at the school. It was the lynchpin program that served as a community bonding activity and as an ambassador for the brainy university. Miller just couldn't win over enough fans - at least the more vocal, unhappy ones - or win enough games.

``I would have liked to have seen a greater welcome for him, but I don't think it's a reason why we were successful or not successful,'' Bilsky said.

Allen, who is black, was a two-time Ivy League player of the year for the Quakers. A four-year starter, he led them to Ivy League titles in each of his last three seasons (1993-95) - all of them coming with a perfect 14-0 mark in the conference.

He was a former team captain and played on three NCAA tournament teams. He was on the 1994 team that beat Nebraska in the first round for the program's only NCAA victory since 1980.

Allen also spent two seasons in the NBA and played professionally in Europe.

Bilsky made the move now because the Quakers don't play again until Dec. 28 at Davidson before a New Year's Eve game at No. 7 Duke.

``If a decision was going to be made during the season, and that's always a difficult task for a lot of reasons, this represents the best time,'' Bilsky said.

Miller, a former assistant to UConn coach Jim Calhoun, led Connecticut College to the Division III tournament in 1998 and 1999. He had a 24-0 regular season there in 1998-99 and led that team to the national tournament semifinals.

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