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(Collegian File Photo)

Rodney Terry may be gone, and I don’t blame him

The Fresno State men’s basketball team lost to San Diego State on Thursday, dashing any hopes it had of a Mountain West Conference championship. Now, it seems the head coach is dashing any hope of sticking around.

The El Paso Times reported March 7 that Bulldogs’ head coach Rodney Terry was one of seven candidates interviewed for the vacant head coaching position at the University of Texas at El Paso.

In his seven years at Fresno State, Terry has turned around the men’s basketball program. He led the team to a Mountain West title and NCAA tournament appearance in 2016, an NIT appearance in 2017 and 20-win seasons in four of the last five seasons.

But while Terry has spent time improving the program, the community has not responded with much interest in his team.

As with all Fresno State athletic teams, attendance at men’s basketball games has rapidly declined. The average attendance for the team’s home games this season was 6,032, the lowest in Save Mart Center history.

And it’s not like the administration is showing the basketball program much more support than the community. The men’s basketball team does not have a dedicated practice facility, and its budget ranks in the bottom third of the Mountain West, according to a report in The Fresno Bee.

On top of that, there has been evident instability at the top of the administration with an interim athletic director in control and a search for a permanent replacement yet to get underway.

But when Terry signed a five-year extension in December 2016, Bulldog fans thought they could sit comfortably and watch Terry continue to grow the basketball program, at least until that contract expired.

That comfort was nothing more than a mirage, seeing as that five-year $3.075-million contract contained no buyout clause. This means that no matter which school wants to steal Terry, it will not have to pay Fresno State a dime for his departure and services.

So whether it’s UTEP or a Power Five conference school, all they have to do is provide Terry with a more enticing offer and environment than Fresno State has made available.

They should not be that hard to provide, especially with all of the aforementioned shortcomings in the Bulldogs’ basketball program. The fact that Terry has even shown interest in UTEP is a testament to how little interest he has left for the Bulldogs.

The Miners play in Conference USA which ranks 15th in RPI, the Mountain West ranks ninth. There is greater prestige and reward in finding success in the Mountain West, but that may not be what Terry is looking for.

It’ll be interesting to see how this Terry saga unfolds. He is sure to see more offers when the coaching carousel really gets spinning, and if you ask me, his departure is imminent.

No community support, no administrative support and no buyout clause to stop other teams from showing interest. He simply has nothing left here.