Editorial: Wait until the season ends before making commitments

Yes, the Eastern men’s basketball team will see Eastern men’s head basketball coach Mike Miller next season.

Miller was awarded a contract extension Thursday for one season.

While the Panthers are 11-11 and 8-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference this season and in fourth place before Monday night’s game, it seems strange to award Miller a contract extension during the middle of the season.

Yes, the team is more successful this season with eight newcomers and only one senior, but a lot can happen with six conference games remaining.

Eastern athletic director Barbara Burke and Dan Nadler, vice president for student affairs, should have waited until the end of the season to award a contract extension.

“It is important that we provide stability for our program to continue to make progress and be successful,” Burke said in a press release. “He has demonstrated a commitment to our program and we appreciate his positive attitude and the direction that the program is headed.”

But this is the only season Miller has established any stability. He guided the program to a 23-63 record in his three previous seasons, and of the 11 wins this season, only nine are against Division I opponents.

And while the eight conference wins are the most since the 2002-2003 season, seven of those wins have come against the five bottom teams in the league.

This has been the second time Miller’s contract has been extended. It was extended after the 2005-2006 season after he went 6-21. Eastern is shooting for mediocrity.

In 2006-2007 he went 10-20, but the 2007-2008 season was dismal with all players set to return for the start of the season.

Then-junior guard Mike Robinson transferred to Lewis University to play basketball during the middle of the season. Then-red-shirt freshman guard Brandon D’Amico transferred to Cardinal Stritch in Milwaukee to play basketball during the middle of last season. Then-sophomore forward Bobby Jolliff also transferred to Huntington University in Huntington, Ind., to play basketball at the NAIA school. Then-sophomore forward Justin Brock transferred to Quincy University after the season was completed to play basketball.

Miller posted five non-conference wins in four seasons (against sub-par teams Western Illinois and Missouri-Kansas City). Miller also has yet to win a game in the ESPNU BracketBusters. Eastern and Southeast Missouri are the only OVC teams not to win a game in this series.

While the men’s team is succeeding this season – and expectations will be high for next season – things can go wrong.

The athletic department should have waited until the end of the season to renew his contract because any athletic team can fade down the stretch.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].