By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut football coach Paul Pasqualoni was fired Monday, with his team 0-4 and coming off a 41-12 loss at Buffalo.
Athletic director Warde Manuel announced the dismissal two days after the latest defeat. Pasqualoni, in his third season at UConn, finishes with a 10-18 record.
“I am making this change in our football coaching staff now as we approach the conference season to see an improved performance from our football program,” Manuel said in a statement.
The school said it will pay Pasqualoni $750,000 to buy out his contract. An interim coach was expected to be announced at an afternoon news conference.
The Huskies have a bye week before hosting South Florida on Oct. 12.
Offensive coordinator T.J. Weist will take over as interim head coach of the Huskies, said a school official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement was not scheduled to be made public until later Monday.
The 48-year-old Weist, who played at Alabama, came to Connecticut in the offseason from Cincinnati, where he served as wide receiver’s coach.
Weist also has coached at his alma mater, Michigan, Southern Illinois, Tulsa and Western Kentucky
University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst said the school is looking forward to a “stronger future that starts today,” and urged fans to support the team for the rest of the season.
“As we saw at our last home game, the amazing energy and highly charged spirit of our fans breathes life into this team and that must continue and be repeated again and again,” she said. “There is no substitute.”
Offensive line coach George DeLeone also was fired.
The Connecticut-born Pasqualoni took over the football team at its height. UConn had appeared in the 2011 Feista Bowl, losing 48-20 to Oklahoma. But UConn finished just 5-7 in consecutive years, and calls for Pasqualoni’s job started mounting after the team opened the season with a loss to Towson.
The Huskies then fell to Maryland and Randy Edsall, the coach whom Pasqualoni replaced. The team seemed to be playing better, beaten 24-21 at home to a Michigan team then ranked No. 15 before being blown out at Buffalo.
Manuel, the athletic director at Buffalo before accepting the Connecticut job in 2012, on Saturday called that loss unacceptable.
“I am disappointed in the record of our team thus far, but I am confident that our coaching staff and student-athletes will continue to work hard to improve and that will be reflected on the field of play as we start our American Athletic Conference season,” he said Monday.
The 64-year-old Pasqualoni was in his 43rd year as a coach, but this was his first head coaching job since being fired by Syracuse in 2004, after leading the Orange to 107 wins in 14 seasons.
During a media conference call Sunday, he said he still loved his work.
“I do this because I have passion for the game and the people you are associated with and everything that goes along with it,” he said. “It hasn’t changed for me ever.”
“I understand the nature of this game. I understand the nature of fans and people,” he added. “Everybody has their opinion and are free to express their opinion, but that doesn’t discourage me.”
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