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      February 16, 2017

      Awkward: Fired NC State Basketball Coach Still Needs to Finish Out the Season

      Photo by Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

      North Carolina State fired men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried Thursday. The Wolfpack are 14-13 this year despite the presence of an authentic point guard prodigy in Dennis Smith Jr., who will probably be a top-five pick this June in the NBA draft. Take all that together and, yeah, firing the coach seems about right.

      "In reviewing the overall direction of our program, we believe a change in leadership is necessary moving forward," NC State athletics director Debbie Yow said.

      Maybe so, but it's not happening immediately. Gottfried still has to coach for the rest of this godforsaken season, which means at least four more regular-season games—two against ranked teams, so this could get worse—followed by the ACC tournament. The season was already a disappointment, but it is about to get awkward fast.

      NC State will pay Gottfried about $2.5 million, because that's what they owe him as part of the buyout. He's getting that cash either way. So why make him stand there on the sideline? You could say he's got to earn his money, but the school already decided it would rather pay him to go away. So hire an interim coach. Put the lead assistant in charge. What's the point of keeping the guy around?

      Even as college coaches get fired earlier and earlier every year, it's hard to think of many instances in which the coach stays on despite knowing definitively that he's lost his job. But whatever, it's NC State's money, let them burn it however they want. Maybe Gottfried will go all Peter Gibbons on us.

      [News & Observer]

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