Former Fresno State women's basketball coach Adrian Wiggins, who was named Ole Miss women's basketball coach in March, has been fired as the team's coach, the university said Saturday.
The University of Mississippi said Wiggins was placed on administrative leave and would no longer serve as head coach "while an investigation continues over impermissible recruiting contacts and academic misconduct committed by members of his staff."
A statement from the university added that "there is no current evidence that Coach Wiggins was complicit in or had direct knowledge of this misconduct, (but) as head coach, he is accountable for the actions of those who report to him."
According to the university, assistant coach Kenya Landers and director of basketball operations Michael Landers were fired. Wiggins hired the Landers couple six months ago shortly after he joined Ole Miss as its head women's basketball coach.
Associate head coach Brett Frank and assistant coach Rebecca Kates-Taylor are still on the staff. Frank was a longtime assistant under Wiggins at Fresno State. Taja Edwards, a former player for Wiggins at Fresno State, remains listed as the team's coordinator of video services. Wiggins, whose name has been removed from the roster of coaches on the Ole Miss athletics website, declined comment when reached by phone by the The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger
"The allegations and findings that led the University to this decisive and swift action are now being further examined jointly by the University and the NCAA," the university said.
In addition, student-athletes Kay Caples, a transfer from Trinity Valley Community College, and Brandy Broome, a transfer from Pensacola State College, are ineligible to compete at the University after failing to meet NCAA transfer eligibility standards.
"This is a sad day for the University of Mississippi, our profession and most importantly our student-athletes," said Ross Bjork, Ole Miss Director of Athletics. "We are committed to the values of professional integrity and academic honesty found in the University Creed and the vision, purpose and core values we have established since I arrived at Ole Miss. We expect our staff and our student-athletes to promote and uphold our values, and I am extremely disappointed these events have occurred.
"We learned of possible violations in September and immediately began a vigorous investigation. As we discovered troubling facts, we informed the Southeastern Conference and NCAA and began taking steps to remedy the problems," the university said.
The university is now searching for an interim head coach for 2012-13, and said it would embark on a national search for a permanent head coach at the end of the season.
"At this point, our focus will be to identify an interim head coach to lead this talented team of student-athletes for 2012-13," Bjork said in a statement. "We have asked our team to move forward academically, athletically and socially, and we will support our student-athletes and their welfare during this difficult time. As soon as an interim head coach is selected, we will make the appropriate announcement."
Wiggins could not immediately be reached for comment.
Wiggins hired Kenya and Michael Landers from Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, to be part of his Ole Miss staff.
Wiggins guided Fresno State into the national limelight with five consecutive Women's NCAA Tournament appearances and one berth in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. Last season, the Bulldogs won a school-record 28 games before losing to Georgetown in an NCAA opener.
In seven-plus seasons at Fresno, Wiggins had a 175-65 record. His teams won four Western Athletic Conference regular-season and four conference tournament championships. In addition, at Fresno State, Wiggins was known for stressing the importance of academics to his players.
Wiggins took over Fresno State's program for the final 11 games of the 2004-05 season after Stacy Johnson-Klein was fired. He earned WAC Coach of the Year twice and helped nurture three conference Players of the Year -- Mirenda Swearengin, Tierre Wilson and, this season, Ki-Ki Moore. Wiggins came to Fresno State in 2002 as Johnson-Klein's top assistant.
Courtesy: Fresno Bee