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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Editorial: Coach Gary Stewart should be let go

Last week, the men’s basketball team finished its eighth season under coach Gary Stewart. And for the seventh straight year, the Aggies finished with a losing record.

This continued lack of success culminated with UC Davis’ failure to qualify for the Big West Conference Tournament this year. This, along with dissent among players, makes it the perfect time for athletic director Greg Warzecka to make a change.

Stewart’s one winning campaign as coach of the Aggies came in his first season at UC Davis – a team with players he didn’t recruit. Every subsequent year, when it was his job to develop the roster, the Aggies have struggled.

Obviously, there are some things outside of a coach’s control that affect a team’s win-loss record. During Stewart’s tenure, the Aggies started and completed the transition to Division I, a possible factor for the sub .500 records. This season, UC Davis was plagued by injuries – another reason for its struggles.

Seven straight losing seasons, however, is inexcusable. A successful basketball team can put fans in the stands and bring revenue in the form of ticket and apparel sales. It is clear that under Stewart, UC Davis will not have a successful team.

Dissent within the men’s basketball team has shown that Stewart isn’t popular among his own players. From Stewart’s start at UC Davis in 2003-2004 until the start of the 2009-2010 season, 18 players have left the team for undisclosed reasons.

At the end of last season, eight players – four of whom have since left the team – wrote a letter to Warzecka requesting that he relieve Stewart and his staff of all coaching duties. Warzecka, however, claims he never saw the petition.

If UC Davis wishes to have a successful men’s basketball program and qualify for the NCAA National Championship Tournament, the coach will need the support of his entire team. It is clear that Stewart does not have this support and now is the right time for the university and Stewart to part ways.

18 COMMENTS

  1. When are we going to hear something from Warzecka on this? Coaching changes are happening all over the country. We need to get in the mix to be able to bring in a quality new staff ASAP!

  2. The women’s team making the big dance drives home the point, we as fans deserve better. The men’s team has not even sniffed the tourney. Coaching means a lot in college basketball. We need someone who is strong on the bench and who can bring in talent!

  3. I am whole-heardily in agreement that its time Stewart must go. He lacks the ability to connect with the players, and assistant coaches. This past year the Aggies played Division II and III teams in pre-conference. What’s up with that to get a team ready for Division I competition? And he lacks the knowledge to change his defense and give his seniors time out to rest. So many times Payne and Harden played over 30 minuties, and so many times they had no feet at the end of games or in overtime games. Warzecka is a fool to let this situation go further, when there is a rebellion among the players who want Stewart to go. Boosters unite,and send your comments, letters to the President of Davis for Stewart’s head.

  4. This is a fantastic editorial. A basketball program is the easiest team to build. Look at all of the schools with much less funding and prestige than UC Davis who are making the NCAA tournament. The bottom line is that Gary Stewart and the ADs office have not done a good job with the program. Warzecka and his merry band of idiots in the athletic department need to fix this team and it starts with a new coach. Also, the majority of students don’t care about a loser. If you want to build up a fan base, make it an exciting team to watch. I’m afraid that the program isn’t engaging the current students who will some day be alumni donors. It’s not just about today, Stewart’s repeated mess-ups will affect the program from years to come if he isn’t relieved of his duties.

  5. While a student, I was one of a group who would be the first few into the building. We would get there early for prime “seats” in the Aggie Pack section, to get our toes on the edge of the paint, try to throw opposing players off their game with research we conducted (favorite: calling a chess champion “Bobby Fischer”), and cheering the hard-nosed Ags to victory or at least a thorough effort. These days? I have zero interest in attending games so long as Gary Stewart is at the helm. In fact, I must admit that I openly hoped a situation like this would occur, where the program would be the lone team to make the conference tournament, solely in the desire to see a dramatic change at the top and to change of the culture of the program for the better.

    I would love to hear or read Gary Warzecka’s explanation to the students (whose fees are collected for athletics), community, staff/faculty/administration, fans, and alums why a coach with a sub-.400 winning percentage is continually given a second/third/fourth chance when time and time again he has proven that he is incapable of being a Division 1 basketball coach.

    Fire Gary Stewart – and I challenge Linda Katehi to review the performance of Greg Warzecka, too.

  6. As a UCD alum living about an hour from campus, I try to attend 3 or 4 basketball games a year. This year I attended ZERO games. I will not be attending any games until a coaching change is made.

  7. Great Editorial.

    Not easy to stay positive with a coach that has failed to deliver for seven straight seasons. That means that there were at least six chances to build a team through the recruiting and development cycle. That did not happen.

    Everyone can’t win. That is understood. However, being on the right path, would justify giving this coach another chance. The fact that they appear to be floundering without any clear direction, changes need to happen.

    The real question… is it possible to just replace the coach or are more changes needed (AD)? The school administration owes it to the school, the students, and the community to address this with care and speed.

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