BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Gerry DiNardo, whose team has lost eight straight games and is winless in the conference, was fired Monday as LSU's football coach.

Assistant coach Hal Hunter will coach the team for the final game against Arkansas on Nov. 28.

LSU chancellor Mark Emmert said DiNardo will be paid for the final four years of his contract.

DiNardo met with school officials Monday, two days after a 20-7 loss to Houston. The Tigers have had two straight losing seasons.

``We've concluded that a change of leadership is necessary,'' Emmert said at a news conference.

DiNardo came to LSU in 1995 from Vanderbilt. He replaced Curley Hallman, who had four consecutive losing seasons. DiNardo had a 26-9-1 record during his first three years, going to three bowl games and capturing two co-championships in the Southeastern Conference West in 1996 and 1997.

But the Tigers, rated by many a preseason favorite to win the SEC West in 1998, slid to a 4-7 record.

With one conference game left, LSU is 0-7 in the SEC and 2-8 on the year and has lost eight straight games for the first time in the school's history.

A combination of near-misses against such SEC opponents as Mississippi State and Alabama and a lifeless performance against Houston apparently were the last gasps for DiNardo.