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March 14, 2014
University of Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant will be back for the 2014-15 season, UA director of athletics Bill Battle said Friday in his weekly blog, The Battle Plan.
Battle also sent his comments to UA supporters via email.
"Coach Grant has earned the chance to continue building this program into the winner that we all know it should be," Battle said in his blog. "He's done it before. He can do it again.
"Simply put, this is a program that is not adrift, and is not devoid of leadership and talent. I believe this is a program that has better days ahead."
Alabama finished its season with a 13-19 record and a first-round SEC Tournament exit, losing to LSU 68-56 in Atlanta on Thursday night. It was the first losing season in Grant's five-year tenure and, by winning percentage, Alabama's worst season since the 1970-71 team went 10-16 in C.M. Newton's second season.
"At this level of collegiate athletics there is a very fine line that separates winning and losing," Battle said. "The 2013-14 men's basketball season has been a disappointing one. Many factors shape a season. We made some strategic decisions going into the year, both with scheduling and with players, that didn't work out like we planned."
Among the concerns that some have expressed with Grant have been the team's inability to make the NCAA Tournament field (once in Grant's five years) and a rate of player attrition that left UA playing with eight scholarship-signed players at the end of the season. NCAA rules allow a team to have as many as 13 players on scholarship.
"The power of the NCAA Tournament appears to have diminished interest in the regular season," Battle wrote. "The mindset of many players (and their parents and friends) is, 'I'll go pro after a year!' When that doesn't happen, the mindset is often, 'It can't be my fault. It must be the system.' As a result there were some 500 players that transferred (nationally) last year. These factors make recruiting and coaching college basketball players even more challenging, as it is difficult to build the senior-laden teams that were more prevalent in times past.
"Without solid leadership, this year's team could have folded at several points in the season. Coach Grant and his staff stayed the course and did not panic when things were going bad."
Grant, whose contract was extended through the 2019 season, in September 2012, earns $1.9 million per season. His buyout clause, should UA have fired him, would have called for payments of $1 million annually through the term of the contract, currently five years.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205.722.0229.TideSports coverage on Facebook