After being ridiculed and parodied in national news, television and on the Internet for a week, ISU head men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy resigned May 5.
When The Des Moines Register published photos of Eustachy drinking and partying with University of Missouri students after a Cyclone loss on April 28, ISU players and athletic department donors lobbied for athletics director Bruce Van De Velde to let the popular two-time Big 12 champion coach keep his job. But the writing was already on the wall, and Eustachy accepted a $960,000 settlement from Iowa State and slipped out of the public eye.
The circus was just beginning for Iowa State. Over the summer months, the basketball program would see:
* Four head coaches from around the country named finalists for the ISU job
* The top choice for head coach turn down the Cyclones' offer
* The promotion of assistant coach Wayne Morgan to head coach
* A player's mother die the day after Morgan's hiring was announced
* A top recruit, Justin Holt, declared ineligible by the NCAA
* Another incoming recruit, forward Damion Staple, reaffirm his decision to attend Iowa State after meeting with Morgan
* Big 12 all-freshmen team guard Adam Haluska deny rumors of a transfer
* Haluska transfer to Iowa one week later
* A four-year contract worth about $500,000 in its first year for Morgan
* Morgan assemble a staff of top-flight assistants from all over the United States
* The Cyclones' all-time leading scorer, Jeff Grayer, return in an assistant role and plan to finish his bachelor's degree
* Two starters arrested for drug and alcohol violations
* Rumors spread about some players' academic problems
* The Cyclones' yearly contest against Iowa scheduled for the first time for after Christmas, in January 2004
When Van De Velde recommended Eustachy's dismissal April 30, hours after the coach admitted "I'm an alcoholic" in a press conference, the coach had five days to appeal the decision to Tahira Hira, executive assistant to the ISU President Gregory Geoffroy.
Although players, students and fans held rallies in support of Eustachy at the coach's house and at Beardshear Hall May 1—2, Eustachy decided against an appeal, accepting the university's settlement offer.
Eustachy will be paid the balance of his base salary totaling $110,000 through the end of 2003. A one-time severance payment of $850,000 is also part of the package and will be paid on Jan. 1, 2004. All of the money Eustachy receives in the settlement will be from university funds. The base salary also provides health insurance that covers treatment for alcoholism.
Morgan signs on
In a whirlwind nine-day coaching search, the athletic department courted Creighton coach Dana Altman, Wyoming coach Steve McClain, Fresno State coach Ray Lopes, Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo, and ISU assistant Wayne Morgan.
But Lebo, the top choice of the ISU search committee, turned down the job. McClain, a native of Orient, interviewed for the job but wasn't hired. Altman and Lopes both removed their names from the applicant pool before being interviewed.
That left Morgan, a longtime assistant to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse who coordinated Iowa State's recruiting in his one season on Eustachy's staff.
Morgan said Van De Velde assured him throughout the search process that he was a strong candidate for the head coaching job.
Wayne Morgan, former ISU men's assistant basketball coach, accepted the position of head men's basketball coach May 14. He replaces former head basketball coach Larry Eustachy.
"I wanted this job," Morgan said. "This is a great program, and a great opportunity for me. I couldn't be happier."
Athletics Director Bruce De Velde and ISU President Gregory Geoffroy both said Morgan's character was one of the reasons he was selected as coach.
"We see in Wayne everything that we want: honesty, integrity, moral character and a genuine concern for student-athletes," Geoffroy said.
Morgan had one previous head coaching experience, a six-season tenure at Long Beach State from 1996—2002. He compiled a 91—84 record and won a conference championship in 2000.
He received a four-year contract worth about $500,000 in the first year with various incentives attached.
Recruiting class stays mostly intact
Larry Eustachy's last recruiting class was highly regarded nationally, but there was concern that his departure might splinter the class.
In the end, all of the recruits wanted to come to Iowa State. Forward Justin Holt became a casualty of an NCAA rule requiring players who transfer from a four-year school to a two-year school to earn two-year degrees before being eligible to play at another four-year school.
Holt attended Oregon State for less than two months in summer 2002 after graduating from high school. He decided to transfer to Tacoma Community College after Oregon State's coach took a new job.
After a season in Tacoma, Holt committed to the Cyclones, but could not win approval to waive the "4—2—4" transfer rule.
Soon after his hiring, Morgan visited Southeastern Illinois College recruit Damion Staple and convinced him to come to Iowa State. His influence played a large role in the retention of the Cyclones' three other recruits, especially that of Curtis Stinson, a 6—2 guard from Winchendon Prep in Massachusetts.
"When I called Curtis Stinson and told him I got the job, he actually started crying," Morgan said. "It took me about five minutes to get him to talk."
Morgan said Will Blalock and Reggie George, both from Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts, were both very happy he had taken over the program.
Vroman, Barnes arrested
Two Cyclone basketball players were arrested for possessing marijuana this summer.
Senior point guard Tim Barnes was charged with drunken driving along with possession of marijuana in an incident in Campustown June 25.
Senior forward Jackson Vroman was arrested May 24 in Spirit Lake for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Morgan suspended both players indefinitely from the Cyclone team. They were just the latest members of the program to find themselves in legal trouble in the last year:
* Jared Homan, a junior-to-be starter at center, pleaded guilty to charges of public intoxication in late March.
* Clint Varley, who has exhausted his eligibility, was suspended in February after being arrested and charged with drunken driving.
* Chris Alexander, a 7—1 center who played nine games this season before leaving Iowa State to enter the NBA Draft and be with his family in Chicago, was arrested for serious assault in October 2002. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
* Omar Bynum, another Cyclone with no eligibility remaining, was arrested last June for operating while intoxicated and possession of marijuana.
* Former assistant coach Randy Brown resigned in early March after being charged with possession and receipt of child pornography. At press time, he was awaiting a plea bargain in U.S. Federal Court.
Adam Haluska committed to play basketball at Iowa State just before his junior season of high school basketball at Carroll High School.
But after a strong freshman season in which he started every game and average 9.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, Internet message boards and sports talk radio stations said Haluska was considering a transfer to Iowa, upset with the ISU coaching situation and interested in playing with former AAU teammates Jeff Horner and Greg Brunner.
Haluska squashed that talk May 20.
"It was just all totally false," Haluska told a Daily reporter. "It was a lot of things that people were reading on message boards and newspapers that totally weren't true."
On May 28, Haluska was released from his ISU scholarship. He eventually settled on continuing his college career with the Hawkeyes.
"It was just a tough year," he said. "I just kind of got sick of the whole basketball deal."
The turmoil surrounding the program, media pressure, and other problems came to be too much when combined with the demands of the basketball season and school, he said.
Haluska said he was sincere May 20 when he said he was returning.
"That was my intention," he said. "Some things happened."
Haluska said he realized it was more important for him to leave Iowa State, where he was not happy, than to try to please coaches, teammates and fans. He said his decision was not merely the result of rethinking his decision, but that new developments helped instigate the reversal.
All-star staff comes to Ames
The Cyclone staff includes just one holdover (besides head coach Wayne Morgan) from last season's staff, a former Cyclone player and a new position, the director of basketball operations.
Bob Sundvold returns as an assistant. He will be joined by former North Carolina aide Fred Quartlebaum, former Southern California assistant Damon Archibald, and former Cyclone and NBA player Jeff Grayer, who will be a graduate assistant. The director of basketball operations is Darryl Sharp, who comes from Norfolk State.
Grayer is probably the most recognizable addition to the staff. He is the Cyclones' all-time leading scorer who went on to play in the NBA for nine years with five teams. He returns to Iowa State as a graduate assistant and is eager for the chance to coach while finishing his degree.
"I'm truly excited about the opportunity of coming back," Grayer said. "Not only being a part of the coaching staff, but I have a chance to complete something that I started for back in 1984."
Archibald comes to Iowa State after three seasons as an assistant at Southern California. He helped the Trojans to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Archibald was responsible for coaching Southern California's defense, which led the Pacific 10 Conference in steals and turnover margin in 2002.
"I know the players … liked him. They liked the program and liked his style of play," Archibald said. "That's the biggest testament to a coach is how the players and the staff respond to the coach. I know that … some of his former staff who are friends of mine loved working for Wayne."
Quartlebaum was the first assistant hired by Morgan. He spent the last three seasons under former North Carolina head coach Matt Doherty, following him from Notre Dame to Chapel Hill.
Quartlebaum said he's eager to bring some stability to the ISU program.
"That's probably the first order of business," he said. "To bring in quality people that can coach, that can recruit, that can formulate relationships, all those things."
Quartlebaum said his enthusiasm is growing as he learns more about "Hilton Magic" and other ISU basketball traditions.
"When I walk into the arena, I can't help but get goose bumps," he said. "I think it's a very, very, very, very thrilling experience. It's the only show in town. I'm just tickled to be here."
Sharp said he'll also be working with academic counseling, basketball camps, mass mailings and exchanging film with other teams for scouting.
Jefferson's mother dies
Darcus Jefferson, the mother of Cyclone senior-to-be Marcus Jefferson, died May 15 in East Chicago, Ind. after losing her battle with cancer.
Marcus Jefferson missed several games this spring to be with his ailing mother. She attended the Cyclones' season finale, a 54—53 loss to Iowa in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
ISU head coach Wayne Morgan said his player was handling the loss as well as could be expected.
"I think that Marcus has matured tremendously, he's just a tremendous young man," he said. "It's a loss that will be felt for a long, long time."
Morgan looks ahead
Wayne Morgan inherited a less than ideal situation at Iowa State.
Along with a laundry list of internal problems, many members of the basketball program's fan base were upset with the way the athletic department handled Eustachy's dismissal.
But after three months on the job, including one month traveling to National Cyclone Club dinner and golf outings around the state, the new ISU men's basketball coach said the program is making progress.
"I would not say [the healing] is 100 percent," he said. "I think we have moved forward tremendously.
"The Cyclone Club outings were great," Morgan said. "I got a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. I really enjoyed getting out and having a chance to be with our fans."
Morgan said the 2003—2004 Cyclones will have an opportunity to have a good season if all of the Cyclones' returning and incoming players are able to play.
"If we get everyone available … My expectation is that we'll be extremely competitive against everyone," he said.
Rumors have circulated about possible academic problems for senior guard Tim Barnes and senior Jackson Vroman. Because students' grades are private, Morgan could not confirm if they would be ineligible for play.
Morgan, known nationally as an outstanding recruiter, said he and his staff have some success in their first recruitment period this summer.
Of the top 35 to 40 high school players in the country for the 2004 class, Morgan said, Iowa State is in the running for about 14.
Morgan also said the Cyclones are involved with five of the nation's top 15 junior college recruits.
Morgan said he is still finalizing this year's schedule. The Cyclones will host Xavier this fall. The Cyclones' annual contest with Iowa at home will likely be held Jan. 21, 2004, he said. The two schools could not agree on a date before the new year to hold the game. Last season, Iowa State beat Iowa in Iowa City 73—69 on a Friday night in 2002.