By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Adrian Wiggins, who guided Fresno State to 175 wins and was hired with hopes of duplicating that success at struggling Ole Miss, has been placed on administrative leave without ever coaching a game.
Two Wiggins staff members were terminated, and a university news release said Wiggins “will no longer serve as head coach” though he remains an employee during an investigation into charges of impermissible recruiting contact and academic misconduct.
Assistant coach Kenya Landers and director of basketball operations Michael Landers have been fired, the school announced on Saturday.
Wiggins hired the Landers couple approximately six months ago, shortly after his own hiring was announced.
In a news release, athletics director Ross Bjork said there was not sufficient evidence to charge Wiggins at this time.
The search begins immediately for an interim head coach for 2012-13, and a national search for a permanent head coach will be conducted at the conclusion of the season, the release said.
“We learned of possible violations in September and immediately began a vigorous investigation. As we discovered troubling facts, we informed the Southeastern Conference and NCAA and began taking steps to remedy the problems. Although there is no current evidence that Coach Wiggins was complicit in or had direct knowledge of this misconduct, as head coach, he is accountable for the actions of those who report to him.”
Kay Caples, a transfer from Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College, and Brandy Broome, a transfer from Pensacola (Florida) State College, have been ruled ineligible after failing to meet NCAA transfer eligibility standards.
Caples, a native of Vicksburg, led Trinity to the national championship and was named junior college player of the year last season. Broome helped Pensacola reach the national tournament semifinals.
Both players are 5-foot-11 guards.
Wiggins said he could not comment on an ongoing NCAA investigation.
“I’ve done the best I can do. It’s out of my hands. I’ll go through the process,” he said.
Wiggins was 175-66 in seven seasons plus a short interim stint at Fresno State. He led the Bulldogs to five-straight NCAA tournaments including in 2012 when Fresno won a school-record 28 games.
Wiggins replaced Renee Ladner, a former Ole Miss player, who was 12-18, 2-14 in the SEC last season, her fifth as head coach.
Bjork is expected to discuss the women’s basketball program with media on Monday. After the shake-up the Ole Miss women’s basketball staff, as listed on the web site, consists of two assistant coaches and a video coordinator.
“At this point, our focus will be to identify an interim head coach to lead this talented team of student-athletes for 2012-13,” Bjork said in the news release. “We have asked our team to move forward academically, athletically and socially, and we will support our student-athletes and their welfare during this difficult time. As soon as an interim head coach is selected, we will make the appropriate announcement.”