Thursday’s sudden firing of Charlotte 49ers basketball coach Mark Price caught many people off guard.
Just nine games into the season, Price, a former NBA All-Star with a 30-42 record in two-plus seasons, is out of a job after a four-game losing streak. He will be replaced on an interim basis by assistant Houston Fancher.
“I’m still stunned, to be honest,” Price told the Observer. “I was called in (Thursday) morning and was told they were going to make a change.”
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Price was not the only person left stunned by the move, judging by reaction on Twitter.
Longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale said the move left him feeling sick. He also suggested quick firings justify coaches making their own sudden moves.
Vitale’s strong response generated intense reaction, some with the hashtag #FireJudyRose, a reference to 49ers athletics director Judy Rose.
Price, a former point guard, came to the 49ers with an impressive playing resume. At Georgia Tech, he earned first-team Associated Press All-ACC honors three times. In 12 NBA seasons, most with the Cleveland, he was named an NBA All-Star four times. Both the Yellow Jackets and Cavaliers retired his No. 25 jersey.
However, Price had no collegiate head coaching experience when the 49ers hired him away from the Charlotte Hornets, where he was the shooting coach. He had served as a head coach at a private Atlanta high school and in Australia’s National Basketball League.
As news of Thursday’s firing spread, the “pro-Price” tweets were plentiful.
But some Twitter users supported the firing, and used social media to advance their points.
One tweet recalled Charlotte’s longtime rivalry with Cincinnati during the Bob Huggins (now at West Virginia) era.
Price’s firing comes two weeks after Charlotte decided to stick with football coach Brad Lambert, whose 49ers just completed a 1-11 season. Lambert – Charlotte’s only football coach since the program’s founding five years ago – has compiled a 17-41 record.
Though Lambert didn’t get fired, three of his assistants were. Gone are defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, quarterbacks coach Jeff Mullen and receivers coach Damien Gary. Also, offensive coordinator Greg Adkins was demoted; he’ll coach the offensive line and running backs.
Though the sports and circumstances differ greatly, the contrast between the treatment of the two coaches didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter.
As one would expect, Thursday’s firing generated a wave of negative tweets, either taking aim at Price or Rose or others. Among the tweets calling foul in some way:
Still, many on Twitter used the moment to go all in on a positive note, thanking Price for his work and wishing him well.
Follow Mike Reader on Twitter.