SMU fires athletic director Steve Orsini

By Bryan Fischer | Blogger
May 17 is not a normal date to hear that an athletic director has been fired, but that doesn't matter much to SMU, which surprisingly fired AD Steve Orsini effective immediately on Thursday.

School president R. Gerald Turner announced the change in a press release but did not give any specific reasons as to why Orsini was let go.

"After several discussions over the last few weeks, it became apparent to me that it was necessary to make this change," Turner said in the release. "While we both are committed to the support of our student-athletes and coaches, a unified effort is required for future progress in our athletics programs."

The move comes just weeks after Orsini coaxed Larry Brown out of retirement to become the school's basketball coach after a lengthy search.

Orsini was largely responsible for a transformation in the culture on 'The Hilltop' after years of sub-par performance before his hiring in 2006. He hired June Jones from Hawaii as the football coach, and Jones ended a 25-year bowl game drought in his second year. Orsini also played a signficant part in getting the Mustangs from Conference USA to the Big East, a transition scheduled to take place in 2013.

Turner thanked Orsini for his contributions to the program and said a national search for a new athletic director would begin immediately. Senior associate athletic director Tim Leonard has been named interim AD.

CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd wonders why the school fired Orsini, hinting that this might be about money.
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