Shyatt Debate Ends with New Two-Year Extension


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - The "Fear Larry, Fire Larry" debate finally reached a conclusion
Friday afternoon.


After a tumultuous week of rumors and questions about his job status, Clemson
head basketball coach Larry Shyatt and the university agreed to a two-year
extension of his current contract. The deal - which runs through the end of
the 2004-2005 season - would have expired after next year, Shyatt's fifth on
the job.


The announcement was made late Friday afternoon by Athletic Director Bobby
Robinson, along with Director of Football/Basketball Operations Bill
D'Andrea.


"We're very pleased," Shyatt said Friday. "I think everybody knows how we
feel about our commitment here, our loyalty here and our passion to prove we
can place this program at a higher level than it is at the moment in a lot of
different ways.


"So I embrace the decision, and I hope that our players and our staff work
all that much harder to prove to the people who care the most about Clemson
that we will continue to serve to the best of our ability."


Robinson said he and D'Andrea evaluated Shyatt's program in five areas - wins
and losses, academics, discipline and compliance, public relations and
recruiting. For the second consecutive year, Shyatt scored high in every
category except wins and losses.


This despite the team's overall grade point average slipping to a cumulative
1.84 last semester.


"We feel like that's coming back to where it needs to be," Robinson said.


Still, it's the wins and losses creating the highly public debate as to
whether Shyatt should have returned.


His four-season record at Clemson is 55-71, including a 16-53 mark in
Atlantic Coast Conference play. After winning 20 games with a senior-laden
club his first season, Shyatt's Tigers have won 10, 12 and 13 games,
respectively, in the next three, all last-place finishes in the conference.


But there is reason to believe the coming season will bring better things for
Clemson. The Tigers lose just one player, senior Jamar McKnight, and will
have a balance in the classes for the first time in over five seasons. And
with nine of the ACC's top 11 scorers not returning next season, along with
22 of 40 starters throughout the league, there is a feeling among those in
the Shyatt camp that 2002-2003 will be a breakout season for the team.


Still, Robinson said the team's record must eventually begin to meet the
optimism.


"While obviously we'd like to win more games, and those have to come, we feel
there are enough positive signs in the program to justify this (extension),"
Robinson said. "We need to see progress. It was a major concern a year ago
and it's a major concern today. We need to see progress in the win-loss
column.


"But you evaluate everything...and there were positives everywhere except for
the wins and losses. That's obvious to everybody, including coach Shyatt."


Robinson said he and D'Andrea met with President James Barker Friday and
jointly made the recommendation to retain and extend Shyatt. Robinson said
Barker agreed with the recommendation.


"I think it's a win-win for Clemson, a win-win for coach Shyatt, as well as
the athletic department and the AD," Robinson said. "A lot of thought went
into this, what you should do and how you should do it. This is what we feel
is in everyone's best interest."


During the Friday teleconference, Shyatt was asked if he would have returned
to Clemson without the extension. After originally talking around the
question, when pressed he indicated he likely wouldn't have done so.


"I don't think that would be in anyone's best interest," he said.


The extension will prove to be invaluable in recruiting, but also provides
Shyatt with a guaranteed buyout in each season.


His contract, which eventually totals $420,000, has a base salary of $132,600
per year for the life of the deal. To buy out the contract, Clemson would
have to pay Shyatt $200,000 at the end of next season, $180,000 at the end of
2003-2004, and $160,000 at the end of the following year.

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