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UMKC Fires Hoop Coach Sundvold

May 24, 2000

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Bob Sundvold coached basketball for 17 years in the University of Missouri system _ 13 as an assistant at the Columbia campus and, later, four at Missouri-Kansas City.

His second departure from the system, like his first, came under less than ideal circumstances.

Sundvold, who resigned from the Missouri staff in 1991 after a lengthy NCAA probe, was fired Tuesday after four seasons at Missouri-Kansas City.

``I’ve always felt that this university ought to be big enough, grand enough, that it can take part of its family and if they have a problem, help them take corrective measures,″ Sundvold said Wednesday. ``I’m a little disappointed right now.″

Athletics director Bob Thomas declined again Wednesday to say precisely why he fired Sundvold just as the program appeared on the verge of a breakthrough.

The Kangaroos were set to return five starters _ including Mid-Continent Conference player of the year Michael Jackson _ from a team that went 16-13 after finishing with eight wins the year before.

``I just think Bob and I have some different ideas about how we can identify and reach our potential,″ Thomas said at a news conference.

If that were the case, Sundvold said, he should have been told where he needed to change _ not fired shortly into what he believed was his annual evaluation.

``We are not on the same page, according to Bob,″ Sundvold said Wednesday. ``I said to him yesterday, `Am I not a capable enough person that if you gave me guidelines, I couldn’t be on the same page?′

``I don’t think we’ve been specific enough between the two of us.″

Thomas, who said Tuesday a search for a new coach would begin immediately, would only say that he and Sundvold had differences over how the coach prepared his team for games.

``That’s where we found ourselves on different pages,″ he said. ``That’s what throws up a flag for me, that we can’t identify our potential and so we can’t reach our potential.″

Thomas, who said he attended practices about once a month and did not sit in on pregame or halftime locker-room talks, would not be more specific.

The firing also surprised Sundvold’s staff, who remain employed by the university.

``We were aware of some differences between those two,″ assistant coach Steve Eck said, ``but not to that extent.″

Sundvold’s resignation from the Missouri staff in 1991 followed a 22-month NCAA investigation that found he had purchased an airline ticket to send a player home after questions were raised about the player’s academic eligibility.

The NCAA did not recommend any sanctions against Sundvold in that case, and Thomas stressed Wednesday that Sundvold’s firing at Missouri-Kansas City was not caused by any misconduct.

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