From the Denver Post: Patton sets finish line CU basketball coach says this season his last with Buffs By Tom Kensler Denver Post Staff Writer DenverPost.com Article Last Updated:10/26/2006 12:30:43 AM MDT Boulder - Colorado men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton ended speculation about his future by announcing Wednesday the upcoming season would be his last at the school. The surprise decision at the team's media day caught CU athletic director Mike Bohn off-guard. "I'm shaken by this; I didn't expect this at all," Bohn told reporters at a late-afternoon news conference. "I'm very disappointed in many ways, based on the timing and communication that Coach Patton and I have had in recent weeks." Patton informed his players and assistant coaches at a morning meeting before making his decision public. He said he was unable to reach Bohn, who was in meetings. Since last spring, speculation has been strong that the upcoming season would be Patton's last at CU because Bohn had not offered a contract extension. "When I hear players talking about saving my job, that should not be their focus and should not be the reason that they are here," Patton said, explaining the timing of his decision. While Patton said he would coach out the season, Bohn isn't ruling out hiring a new coach before the season is over. "I'm not prepared to address that at this time," he said. Patton's future had been in limbo since March. The Buffs were 20-10 last season and did not get selected to the NCAA Tournament, at which point Bohn said he would wait until after the 2006-07 season to decide whether to extend Patton's contract. The final year of Patton's current three-year contract expires July 1, 2007. Patton, 48, is 177-140 overall at CU in 10 full seasons, but 77-94 in conference play. He said he would neither seek nor accept an extension of his contract. He was making about $750,000 per year in his total package. Patton surprised his staff and players Wednesday morning when he announced his decision at a team meeting. "My decision allows our players, recruits, coaches and the university as much time as possible to consider their futures and the best course for each of them to take," he said. Bohn said his first concern now is helping the team, which he believed Patton was trying to do by not letting speculation about his job status affect them. "As it unfolded, (it shows) Ricardo's concern about the players in the program are really foremost on his mind, and I salute him for that," Bohn said. As to whether he thought of firing Patton on the spot Wednesday, Bohn said he never gave it a thought. CU star junior guard Richard Roby praised Patton for his work: "I think (he) maximized everything he could do. We definitely have less things than other schools have. But I've never used that as an excuse." Former CU star center David Harrison, who now plays for the Indiana Pacers, hopes the change will bring better days in Boulder. "I think it's a travesty, but if it's going to bring a better coach for the basketball program that is going to get them winning then I'm for it," Harrison said. "But if you're losing a coach, you've got to get something out of this. You got to get a better coach, better facilities, better this, better that. It's going to take a step back. It's going to kill a year of recruiting. It's a bad situation for both parties." Bohn said he will immediately begin looking for a coach. "It wouldn't surprise me if we already have calls into our office from coaches around the country," Bohn said. "I think the University of Colorado is a terrific opportunity. I would anticipate (the hiring process) being extremely competitive and more high-profile than people give it credit for. "The good news is we have some time." Patton said he never considered stepping down before completing his contract and wants to stay in the coaching profession. "We don't teach our guys to quit," Patton said. "This is not quitting. This is just knowing when to move on." Patton's teams reached the NCAA Tournament twice in 10 years. He has posted three of the four 20-win seasons in school history. CU posted winning conference records in three of the past four years. CU appeared headed toward the NCAA Tournament a season ago but lost five of its last eight games, then lost by 33 points to Texas A&M in the Big 12 Tournament. For years, Patton mentioned a lack of support from the athletic department, the program's lack of tradition and a lack of a fertile recruiting area nearby as challenges for any CU men's basketball coach to overcome. Bohn was addressing those concerns. Ironically, CU held a "Buff Basketball Madness" open house Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center to introduce students and other fans to the men's and women's teams with scrimmages and dunk and 3-point shooting contests. "Probably our biggest challenge is to find an environment for our student body to support our kids," Bohn said. "The players deserve that. And it's going to be really important when we recruit a new coach. ... The criteria is pretty clear that we're looking for somebody with proven leadership. This is a great job. We will land a great coach." Staff writer Tom Kensler can be reached at 303-954-1280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.