The University of Oregon hired Paul Westhead as their women’s basketball coach in the spring of 2009, to replace longtime coach Bev Smith. Westhead, known for a fast-break style of play, was seen as a burst of fresh air for a program that had been drowning in staleness.
The excitement lasted for the first year, which ended with the Ducks making a spirited run in the-then Pac-10 Tournament. But soon afterwards, Oregon became known as a “fast skid” team, starting out the season on fire and then completely collapsing.
This year the Ducks didn’t even begin fast; they collected their first win Dec. 16, over a month into the season. Currently they are 4-24, and their average margin of loss is over 20 points. Westhead has not only failed to produce a winning season in his four years at the coaching helm, but the Ducks seem to have gotten worse every year that he’s been there. Other college coaches have been let go for much less.
The University of Oregon needs to buy out the last year of Westhead’s contract and fire him now. To be sure, he has had an extensive career with much success on both the college and pro levels. But that time has clearly passed. Not only do the current Ducks play with no energy, but Oregon has lost numerous season ticket holders and fans over the last two years, in particular.
Oregon has championship-level teams in almost every sport except women’s basketball. There’s no reason to set the bar lower for women’s hoops. The University gets donations from Nike, and isn’t short of cash. They have a responsibility to women’s basketball fans to save the program. The players and fans deserve better than what they’ve been getting.
It’s time for a change. Immediately.