Larry Shyatt To Return for 2001-2002 Season

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CLEMSON - The reports of Larry Shyatt's demise proved to be a bit premature.

Clemson Athletic Director Bobby Robinson said Shyatt will be back for the 2001-2002 season, squelching speculation that the third-year coach would be fired after a second-consecutive losing season.

Robinson made the announcement Monday afternoon at a meeting with the beat writers who cover the Tigers on a daily basis.

"I think he's a great fit for Clemson," Robinson said. "He loves Clemson, he wants to be here, he's obviously made a commitment to be here. His family loves it here. They've been tremendous ambassadors for Clemson.

"Personally I think he's done everything you could ask from a personal perspective in representing Clemson University."

Robinson cited five factors in evaluating Shyatt: Academics, discipline, public relations, recruiting and won-loss record.

"You have to look at each one of them in total, and basically in four of the five we're doing very well," Robinson said. "Obviously the area we need the most improvement in is wins and losses. That's something that is a major concern, but we feel like with new people coming into the program and (experienced players returning) hopefully we'll get to where we want to go."

Shyatt has two years remaining on a contract which pays him a base salary of $130,000, but is worth over $400,000 annually counting broadcast and endorsement money. Robinson said an extension of Shyatt's contract would not be discussed until the end of next season.

Robinson also said there would be certain expectations, but declined to give specifics. However, he did mention the 10-year plan for the university set forth by Clemson President James Barker. Robinson and Barker met last week, the AD said, and were in "total agreement" that Shyatt should return.

Robinson said Shyatt "recently" was told he would be back for a fourth season.

Shyatt, who was out of town recruiting Monday, will meet with Robinson at a later date to discuss the athletic director's evaluation of the program, as well as expectations for the future.

That future has come sooner, rather than later. Shyatt has played three freshmen considerable minutes this season, and watched as the trio exhibited the expected ups and downs which come with inexperience.

But the upside appears to be tremendous. Guard Tony Stockman is the leading freshman scorer in the ACC at 12.4 points per game, while Hobbs is tops among freshman rebounders (6.5).

Shyatt also secured what one recruiting service ranks as the 11th-best incoming class in the nation for next year. Three of the four players he signed already have qualified academically.

"I think the foundation has been established," Robinson said. "I think the incoming class and the present class gives us reason for optimism.

After a 10-20 season a year ago, Clemson is 11-18 heading into Thursday's play-in game at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. The Tigers finished the year with a 2-14 conference record, worst in the league, and closed the season with a lethargic loss to No. 8 seed Florida State last Saturday.

But Shyatt's team also showed flashes of a bright future, including a stunning 75-65 upset of then No. 1 North Carolina on Feb. 18.

"I just kind of wiped last year off, because I didn't think you evaluate the program at all last year," Robinson said. "If you look at this year we are the youngest team in the league. While we're taking some lumps, we're playing a lot of young people and we'll be playing a lot of young people next year, too.

"We'd like some stability in the program, there's no question about that. We think that's important in any program you have, some kind of continuity to build a base. On the other side you have to get results, eventually. You have to show you you're going to get where you want to go. There's a fine line in there.

"We are committed. We think the pieces are in place to get where we want to go. Now we have to get there. It's up to all of us, from the athletic administration to the coaches to the student-athletes, everyone, to get where we want to go."

Shyatt: Job Status Was a Non-Issue

CLEMSON - If Larry Shyatt was ever worried about his job security, he never said so publicly.

The issue became a moot point Monday when Clemson Athletic Director Bobby Robinson announced that Shyatt would be returning for his fourth season as the Tigers' head coach. The announcement came after a weekend of increased speculation about Shyatt's job security following a season-ending loss to Florida State last Saturday.

In the postgame press conference, Shyatt was questioned by the media about his job security and the remaining years on his contract, the first time such questions had been raised in that setting this season.

Monday, Robinson squashed any thoughts that Shyatt might be fired following an 11-18 regular season.

"I think it's time to bring those things to a head, bring it to a closure, because that's not the issue right now," Robinson said Monday.

Shyatt, reached in Mississippi where he was watching Clemson recruit Chey Christie play in the state tournament, reacted to the news in his usual upbeat fashion.

"Since (my family is) where we want to be, I'm encouraged," he said. "We always want to do what's best for Clemson University."

Shyatt said he got the news last week during a brief conversation with Robinson. A longer meeting between the two, with a complete evaluation of the program, will be forthcoming following the completion of this weekend's Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

"It's been a non-issue with me, really," Shyatt said. "None of this has ever been discussed with the team, and hopefully it's never been a distraction. All we want to do now is focus on (ACC first-round opponent) Florida State and, if we're lucky enough to win that, maybe North Carolina again."

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