FORT COLLINS – Colorado State placed basketball coach Larry Eustachy on administrative leave Saturday while the school assesses the program, a decision that again raises questions about his conduct.
Athletic director Joe Parker said he “asked” the coach to “temporarily step away” while the university gets a better understanding of the “climate” surrounding the team.
Assistant Steve Barnes will coach Saturday’s game against Nevada and “until the assessment is complete.” Eustachy is under contract through the 2020-21 season.
“We are diligently working through this assessment as expeditiously as possible, understanding the importance of a thorough and fair process,” Parker said in a statement. “No conclusions have been made.”
On Wednesday, Parker said the school was evaluating the team by talking to students and staff associated with men’s basketball. Parker offered no further information. That came after an online report by former Rocky Mountain Collegian sports editor Justin Michael who said Parker was interviewing players about Eustachy’s conduct.
Eustachy coached later Wednesday night, with the Rams losing 91-86 to Wyoming in double overtime.
It was reported last year that the university looked into Eustachy’s conduct in 2013-14, finding that he created an atmosphere of “fear and intimidation” among players. In documents obtained by the Coloradoan and posted online a year ago, Eustachy acknowledged he “crossed the line” when asked about the atmosphere within the program by former athletic director Jack Graham. The documents also said the coach called players derogatory names, threw chairs, soda cans and erasers, along with punching a whiteboard.
Graham wrote to Eustachy in March 2014, saying the “behaviors we discussed shall not occur again or the university will terminate its contract with you for just cause.”
The 62-year-old Eustachy is in his sixth year with Colorado State. The short-handed Rams entered the day 10-14 – dropping five in a row – with a 7-5 mark at Moby Arena. Entering this season, Eustachy’s squads have won 80 percent of their games in Fort Collins.
Before his arrival at Colorado State, Eustachy went 61-33 in three seasons with Idaho, and then 98-52 in five seasons at Utah State. He may be best known for his time at Iowa State. His best season for the Cyclones was 1999-2000, when Eustachy had Jamaal Tinsley and Marcus Fizer and the team went 32-5 record, reaching the final eight of the NCAA field. For that, Eustachy was named AP coach of the year.
He resigned from Iowa State in 2003 after photos of him partying with students surfaced. Soon after, Eustachy went into alcohol rehab.
Following a year away from basketball, he was given another opportunity at Southern Mississippi, where he steadily built the program into a contender. He turned in four 20-win seasons with the Golden Eagles and led them into the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12.
He was introduced as Colorado State’s coach in April 2012. The Rams went 26-9 his first season and made it to the NCAA Tournament.