Freshmen Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers seemed puzzled and stunned as they stood in the hallway of Heritage Hall Tuesday night after learning that Stan Morrison will no longer be their coach.
Kimble and Gathers came West from Philadelphia to become starters on USC's young team the past season.
"I'm very disappointed--I'm very upset," said Gathers, a 6-7 forward. "We wouldn't have been here (USC) if it hadn't been for David Spencer."
Spencer, a USC assistant coach who recruited the Philadelphia players, is presumably out of a job now that Morrison has become an associate athletic director at the university.
"I want to know the reason why Coach Morrison isn't with us anymore," said Kimble, a 6-4 guard. "I have an empty feeling. He did a fine job. I was stunned when he told us he was no longer our coach.
"He should be here. Our record doesn't mean anything. He inspired us up to our last game against Oregon State. If we (Gathers and Kimble) had gone someplace else, our record (11-17 overall) might not have been as good. He brought in a recruiting class that was rated the fourth best in the nation.
"We were just getting used to all the other players, and now we have to get used to another coach."
While Kimble and Gathers said they don't intend to transfer, they they didn't totally rule out the possibility, instead adopting a wait-and-see attitude. They said that a four-man player delegation--as yet unnamed--will have some input in selecting a new coach.
USC Athletic Director Mike McGee confirmed as much when he said: "We'll involve the athletes. They'll represent the team and will have the opportunity to (talk) with candidates when they come on campus."
Two other USC freshmen--forward Tom Lewis and guard Rich Grande--said they were also stunned by Morrison's announcement. They both said an athlete selects a school based the coach and the prestige of the university.