A month-long investigation into the events surrounding the resignation of MU basketball coach Quin Snyder came to an end and the findings of that investigation was released to the media Thursday morning.
Independent investigators Dalton Wright, a newspaper publisher from Lebanon, Missouri and Jean Paul Bradshaw, an attorney from Kansas City, talked to 19 people over 28 days. The point perhaps most at issue in regards to the resignation has to do with two conversations: one between Athletic Director Mike Alden and special assistant Gary Link and another between Link and Snyder.
On February 8, Alden met with Link, as they normally do after basketball games. The night before, MU dropped its sixth-straight in a 90-64 road loss to Baylor. Alden told investigators that he asked Gary Link to talk to Snyder to see if he was still interested in coaching. Last year, soon after the 2004-2005 season ended, expectations for the next season were put forth to Snyder. He would be terminated if the team didn’t finish in the top half of the Big 12 and earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. In that agreement, Snyder was given the option of resigning at any point if he felt those expectations couldn’t be met and would still be eligible for compensation.
Alden has stated in the past that there was no discussion of firing Quin Snyder in that discussion with Link.
However Link’s version, according to the investigators, is a little different. He indicated that Alden told him that Snyder would not be back to coach next season and that there was nothing that could be done to save his job. Link also stated that there was no directive from Alden to tell Snyder that he would be fired. Link also said that Alden told him that Chancellor Brady Deaton, President Elson Floyd and Chancellor Don Walsworth were “on board” with the decision.
Again, this is in contrast to Alden’s testimony. He said that he told Link that all three of those people were behind the idea that Snyder should be let go if the expectations weren’t met. The findings didn’t indicate whether or not Alden indicated the three had specifically signed off on the idea to make a concrete decision on Snyder’s future before the season ended.
Deaton, Floyd and Walsworth have all publicly denied any prior knowledge of Alden’s decision to decision to fire Snyder, though all were aware of the expectations placed on Snyder and what would happen if those expectations weren’t met.
One area of speculation has been whether or not Alden sent Link to tell Snyder that he was going to be fired. Link told investigators Alden never gave him a directive or order to talk to Snyder. The next day he met with Snyder and informed him that he wouldn’t be retained next season and that he could resign now or coach through the end of the season and be fired. Late that night he called Link to tell him he would quit.
On Friday, February 10, Snyder decided to tell his players after practice.
Wright and Bradshaw concluded that Deaton, Floyd and Walsworth understood the expectations, but that there was no consensus that the three of them were all in agreement. Wright and Bradshaw assert, “While the exact versions of what was said differ, it is also clear from both men, that Alden told Link that there was some level of approval for this action from the Chancellor, President and Walsworth.” They added, “In the end, however, the result was fair. No one was cheated, and no laws were broken.”
The investigators were most critical of the way the MU handled the situation with the media. “The handling of the media aspects of this story reflects what has been a continuing problem with handling ‘crisis’ situations.” They believe that the university should have been completely forthcoming with information or said nothing at all.
MU President Elson Floyd issued a statement thanking Wright and Bradshaw, but offered no further comment on the matter.