The first coach firing of the new year happened Tuesday, as South Florida relieved Orlando Antigua of his head coaching duties and named assistant Murry Bartow the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Bulls are coming off a home loss to Houston and currently sit at 6-7 on the season (0-2 in the AAC). Antigua’s overall record at USF is just 23-55 after winning just 8 and 9 games in each of his first two seasons, respectively. On top of that, the men’s basketball program is currently under NCAA investigation for academic fraud and one assistant coach – Antigua’s younger brother, Oliver – had already resigned as a result.
Antigua came to Tampa after spending the previous six seasons on John Calipari‘s staff, first at Memphis and then at Kentucky, including the Wildcats’ 2012 National Championship season. His strong recruiting history was a big reason why he was hired in the first place, but a lack of recruiting success and a series of player departures were some of the major reasons for his early dismissal. Two players were dismissed this past summer and then in December, the Bulls top-returning scorer – PG Jahmal McMurry – announced that he would transfer from the program. McMurry became the 13th player to leave the USF program early since previous head coach Stan Heath was let go in March 2014.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Antigua grew up in the Bronx and played his college ball at Pittsburgh. He also served as the head coach of his native country’s national basketball team from 2013-2015.
Interim head coach Murry Bartow joined the coaching staff at USF just this year, following 12 seasons as the head coach at East Tennessee State. Bartow played and coached at UAB under his father, Hall of Famer Gene Bartow, and eventually took over the Blazers’ program in 1996. With a career head coaching record of 327-248 (.569) and four NCAA Tournament on the resume, it will be interesting to see what Bartow is able to do with the spiraling USF program over the next three months.