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.