- The Washington Times - Monday, April 25, 2011

George Washington ousted basketball coach Karl Hobbs on Monday, less than a week after the Colonials hired a new athletic director.

Hobbs’ contract was set to expire next year, but the university opted to release him “effective immediately,” according to a statement.

“The university determined that now is the time for new leadership of GW’s men’s basketball team. On behalf of the university, I thank Karl Hobbs for his dedicated service and the many successes he achieved during his tenure,” senior vice provost and senior vice president Robert Chernak said in the statement.

Hobbs was 166-129 with three NCAA tournament appearances in 10 seasons, but did not reach the NCAA tournament in the last four years. The Colonials were 17-14 with a first-round loss in the Atlantic 10 tournament to Saint Joseph’s last season.

The decision swiftly followed the hiring of Patrick Nero, who was named on Wednesday as the replacement for retiring athletic director Jack Kvancz. Nero comes to George Washington after a stint of more than five years as the commissioner of the America East.

“I think everyone has very high expectations of men’s and women’s basketball here at George Washington, and I will say I share those high expectations,” Nero said after his introductory press conference. “I need to spend some time and see how we can be better.”

It would seem he will invest plenty of time in the Colonials’ most visible program in the days to come.

Hobbs, a former Connecticut assistant, was hired in 2001 to replace Tom Penders. After starting with consecutive losing seasons, he reached the NIT in 2004 and then rattled off three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. The Colonials won the Atlantic 10 tournament in 2005 and 2007, and were ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation in 2006.

But the Colonials struggled after the stars of those postseason teams - Carl Elliott, Mike Hall, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and J.R. Pinnock, among them - left the program. George Washington is 52-64 over the last four seasons and has not won an A-10 tournament game since 2007.

Hobbs coaxed a winning season last winter out of a team that lost its best player, Lasan Kromah, to a preseason foot injury. The Colonials tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10, winning 10 league games for the fifth time in Hobbs’ tenure. GW is tied with Dayton and Richmond for the third-most 10-win seasons in A-10 play in that span behind only Xavier (nine) and Temple (seven).

But the more recent results weren’t as impressive. GW is 25-39 in the conference in the last four seasons, producing fewer league victories than everyone but Fordham (eight), St. Bonaventure (23) and Charlotte (25) in the 14-team league during that stretch.

Hobbs’ departure means two prominent area schools have coaching vacancies. Former George Mason coach Jim Larranaga accepted the job at Miami on Friday.

• Patrick Stevens can be reached at pstevens@washingtontimes.com.

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