Gene Smith Addresses Media Regarding Snyder Departure

Nov. 15, 2000

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Wednesday, at 4:30 p.m. MST, Arizona State athletic director Gene Smith held a press conference in which he announced the planned departure of football coach Bruce Snyder at the close of this season.

The following is Smith's general statement to the media:

(NOTE: Athletic Director Smith did not comment on any potential candidates for the position of head football coach at ASU. Bruce Snyder did not appear or send a statement Wednesday, but will be available to the media following Thursday's practice.)

'I want to share with you a decision I have come to in the last couple days. I've made a decision that we need change in the leadership of our football program. I met with Coach (Bruce) Snyder earlier today. We've come to an understanding that he will be our football coach until the conclusion of this season and at that point in time he will step down as Sun Devils football coach.

'I would like to say a couple things. One, you all appreciate that this is one of the most difficult decisions that any administrator has to make. It's the difficult part of what I do as an athletic director and leader of this program, and as part of this family.

'Bruce Snyder is a gentleman. He's a class man. He's always operated with the highest (degree) of integrity. We have an outstanding foundation and one of the challenges that I live with, being in this capacity as an athletic director, is the business part of what we do. But I wanted to make sure that we all understand, the Sun Devil family, that Bruce Snyder has operated this program with class and dignity and integrity, and for that we need to be thankful.

'Many of you are wondering why I made this decision today, which is a departure from what I shared at the beginning of this season and throughout the season. I came to a realization recently that this is the decision that's best for our program for the future. But once I make a decision, I'm the type of individual that wants to act.

'I want to be honest with this staff, with this team, with Sun Devil fans, that there was nothing that could occur from yesterday (until the end of the season) that would make me change my mind. I was firm in my decision.

'I was grounded. There was no need for me to continue to allow speculation to occur, to continue to allow the cloud (of doubt) of what would happen with this staff and our family, relative to our football leadership.

'I felt it was the right thing to do, to provide this staff an opportunity of what occurs in the marketplace once the season is over, so that hopefully they can place themselves at other institutions. We will provide the best service that we can, relative to any level of support that we can, to help them make a smooth transition from the Sun Devil program.

'Many people probably wonder what effect this will have on our program over the next few weeks as we continue to compete. I believe that these young men in this football program are outstanding young men and they have a great deal of pride and support in their football coach. And I believe that they will respond to his leadership.

'Until the end of this season, Bruce Snyder is our football coach, he is the leader of this program, and I believe strongly that he will continue to operate with integrity and lead this program so that these young men have an opportunity to win each Saturday that they have a chance to play.

'I want to also address this morning's article (appearing in the Arizona Republic which reported former Sun Devil Danny White to be on a 'short list' of candidates for head football coach next year). I was obviously highly disappointed in that article. I had an opportunity since I've been here, all the way back to the San Diego State game (August 31) out in San Diego, to meet with former student-athletes.

'Danny White, without a shadow of a doubt, is a legend here. For me not to meet with a legend and get his opinion of being a Sun Devil, and get his opinion of being a former player in this program and a leader in this community would be negligence on my part.

'I met with many Sun Devils. I met with John Pitts, I met with Duane Morrison, and we can go on. (I met with) a number of Sun Devils at the UCLA game (September 30), to talk about the football program. I'm a football guy, so I'm going to talk to football people, and that's the reality.

'Relative to the search (for a new head coach), we're going to do anything that we can to go out to contract a coach who has demonstrated success in the collegiate environment, who has demonstrated the ability to lead student-athletes and young men, who has demonstrated the ability to develop winning programs, (who) has all the requisite skills relative to compliance in the NCAA, (and who) operates with integrity and understands how to operate at higher education.

'So we're going to do our best, once the season is done, to really get hard-pressed to try and find an experienced football coach that has had an opportunity to be a part of the educational environment.'

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