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Patsos resigns at Siena

Patsos resigns at Siena

Saints stumbled to 8-24 record in 2017-18
Patsos resigns at Siena
Siena basketball coach Jimmy Patsos has resigned
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

LOUDONVILLE — A messy divorce between Siena College and Jimmy Patsos was finalized Friday, as the school’s men’s basketball head coach for the last five seasons offered his resignation amid an ongoing investigation into the program.

“That was Jimmy’s decision and, certainly, we respect that,” Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said.

It had become public, though, midway through last week that Siena had started an investigation into Patsos’ program — and his behavior leading it — following the team’s 8-24 season. A week prior to his resignation, Patsos held an off-campus press conference where he denied allegations he verbally abused a student team manager or had any involvement in keeping per diems from his program members, while vowing to remain the school’s men’s basketball coach.

In a statement released Friday through his attorney Richard P. Walsh Jr. of Lombardi, Walsh, Davenport and Amodeo, P.C., Patsos announced his resignation and again denied any allegations regarding misconduct on his part.

“I have denied and continued to deny any accusations of wrongdoing, but it is clear that it would be impossible to coach and recruit for Siena in this atmosphere and I would never want to do or say anything that would be harmful to the team or to the school,” Patsos’ statement, in part, reads. “I am still not sure how we got to where we are today; but, at this time, I believe it would be best for all concerned if I was to leave Siena and pursue the next challenge in my lifetime of helping boys become men through college athletics.”

Patsos did not return a phone call seeking comment and D’Argenio declined to comment on whether a financial settlement had been reached with Patsos. According to the school’s 2015-16 IRS Form 990, Patsos’ base salary for that year was $369,943.00. That’s the most recent year’s salary for Patsos that is publicly available. Patsos’ contract with Siena was through the 2020-21 season.

A national search will begin immediately to find Siena’s next coach.

Names that have been floated to fill the position include Le Moyne head coach Patrick Beilein and Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara, but D’Argenio said the school has not contacted any candidates and left open the possibility Siena could hire a search firm to help with filling the position.

“We have not had any contact with any coaches, any coaches’ representatives,” D’Argenio said.

In a statement released through the school, Siena president F. Edward Coughlin said:

“Our men’s basketball program is among the many treasured traditions at Siena and a source of great pride among students, alumni, fans, and supporters. Over the years, the team has celebrated wins on some of the sport's biggest stages, and, experienced difficult losses and disappointments. Most importantly, the program has consistently represented the College with class, honor, and integrity. Siena’s founding Franciscan tradition calls upon us to honor the fundamental dignity of every person. Our core values demand compassion and help shape a community where all should feel welcomed, respected, and cherished. As we look forward to a new chapter in Siena men’s basketball, our shared commitment to upholding these ideals will continue to guide us.”

School officials informed team members of Patsos’ resignation shortly before D’Argenio and junior Evan Fisher addressed the media at 5:30 p.m. Leading up to Patsos’ resignation, Fisher said the “period of uncertainty [wasn’t] easy on anyone” with the team. Fisher also said Siena’s players had not had contact with the team’s coaching staff since the start of the investigation, presumably at the school’s request.

“There’s an ongoing investigation and I’ve been asked not to talk about it, so I’m going to respect that request,” Fisher said in answering a question about why the players had not been in communication with the team’s coaches.

Fisher also declined to answer a question about whether he ever found Patsos’ coaching style to be abusive.

D’Argenio said no players, as of Friday evening, had requested a release from their scholarships following the news of Patsos’ resignation. Such requests, he said, would be handled on an individual basis.

During Patsos’ tenure, Siena went 77-92, played in one MAAC championship game and never qualified for the NCAA tournament. In his five seasons, Siena had two 20-win seasons, two 20-loss seasons and one .500 season. In his first season, the Saints made a memorable run to a CBI championship, but Siena’s 24-loss campaign in his fifth season matched a program-worst mark. Three times as a Division I program, Siena has suffered 24-loss seasons. Each time, the next season’s team has included a new head coach.

“I wish everyone at Siena the best and thank all of my players, coaches and managers for their dedication to me over the last five years,” Patsos said in his statement. “I also want to give a heartfelt thank you to the community that has treated me and my wife, Michele, so wonderfully during our time in the Capital District. Siena is fortunate to have an amazing, dedicated fanbase. Hopefully, we will meet again.”

D’Argenio said there is no timeline for when Siena will hire its next coach. The school, he said, won’t be “swayed by false deadlines” and will exercise more patience than it did after Mitch Buonaguro was dismissed five years ago.

“If I look back,” D’Argenio said, “maybe we could have taken a little more time.”

Reach Michael Kelly at mkelly@dailygazette.net or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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