Could Glen Miller leave Penn?


Athletic Director Steve Bilsky and hoops coach Glen Miller had their annual season-in-review meeting the afternoon of March 18. The DP has since confirmed that Miller has not been fired. He is still Penn's head coach, and he will return for the 2009-2010 season.

That is, if he wants to.

The possibility of Miller leaving Penn in the next few weeks isn't as far-out as it might seem. He has a five-year contract, according to my colleague Andrew Todres; if he stays on board, next year will be his fourth with the Quakers. After that season, the Athletic Department will either have to grant him a contract extension or fire him, since I doubt it would want a lame-duck coach running its flagship program.

If the decision was made today, Miller would be out the door, no question. His teams have stunk. Fans are incensed. Players are deserting. So If Miller does return to Penn, he is banking on pulling off a dramatic turnaround to satisfy his bosses.

That is a big gamble, because if the team struggles and Miller gets the axe, his stock as a head coach takes a serious hit.

Obviously, he can avoid that risk by bolting for another job during the offseason. As a career move, it makes a lot of sense. His decision would depend in part on the following questions:

  1. How confident is he that the team will improve?
  2. How firmly are Steve Bilsky and Amy Gutmann committed to him?
  3. Can he mollify the alumni who are calling for his head?
  4. Will any suitable coaching jobs open up?
  5. What kind of position (head coach vs. assistant, mid-major vs. power conference) would he be willing to accept? And at what salary?
Ultimately, though, it's a question of how much Miller values his career. Is the mere prospect of being fired enough to scare him away from Penn? Or will he run that risk and try to finish what he started? The more he cares about keeping his resume clean, the likelier he is to skip town and avoid giving it any more black marks.

Obviously, I don't know what's in Miller's head, although I hope to speak with him in the coming days. His decision will have huge ramifications for the program and also for Bilsky, whose job security is closely linked with his own. The situation will remain unclear until well after the NCAA Tournament ends, when teams around the nation shuffle their coaching personnel.

For the sake of stability, I hope Miller stays. But if his one-on-one with Bilsky last week didn't go well, he might have already seen the writing on the wall. If Miller thinks he is history after 2010, he has every incentive to get out of Dodge as soon as possible. If he splits for an assistant-coaching gig in the Big East a few weeks from now, feel free to be bitter -- just don't be surprised.

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