CHEYENNE – Laramie County Community College fired men’s basketball coach Jason Ficca on Monday.
The Golden Eagles went 4-25 this past season, which came on the heels of a 12-19 mark during the 2018-19 campaign. It is LCCC’s worst two-year stretch of Ficca’s tenure. It went 17-43 during his first two seasons.
“I feel like this was a bit premature, and that I had earned a chance to turn it around,” Ficca said Monday afternoon. “We had had a really good run of 10 straight years of finishing no worse than tied for fourth in our sub-region. This was the first year we finished outside the top four in a decade.
“I’m not naïve. I know that four wins is not good, but I thought there was enough of a track record there, enough history and enough really good performances to realize that this season was an aberration and not the norm. I’ve shown before that I can turn things around and build things up.”
Ficca will be paid through the remainder of his contract, which ends June 30, the school said in a news release.
LCCC interim athletics director Cynthia Henning was reluctant to confirm Ficca’s firing to WyoSports late Monday afternoon because of the school’s policy of not commenting on personnel matters. However, she did offer an assessment of the men’s basketball program.
“If you go back and look at the records of the men’s basketball program over the past several years, there has been a decline in what we’ve been able to accomplish,” she said. “We have expectations for the performance of our athletics teams, and we’re looking forward to the future success of our men’s basketball program.”
DeWayne Saulsberry – who has been Ficca’s assistant coach since he arrived at LCCC in 2007 – has been named interim coach. He will guide the Golden Eagles through the 2020-21 season. LCCC will start its search for a permanent basketball coach in January 2021, Henning said.
Limitations on travel and face-to-face contact because of the coronavirus necessitated delaying the search process.
“We hope to name our new, permanent men’s basketball coach around the end of next season,” she said. “We did that because of the situation we’re in (with COVID-19). Also, DeWayne has done an awesome job for us as a coach, and in his other role with the college.
“That’s the timeline we’re following to cause the least disruption to the men’s basketball program as we possibly can.”
Saulsberry – who also has overseen LCCC’s Recreation and Athletics Center – will be considered the same as any other applicant, Henning added.
Ficca compiled a 209-199 record during 13 seasons with the Eagles. That included five seasons of 20 wins or more. They played for a berth in the 2017 National Junior College Athletic Association tournament, but lost to Gillette College in the Region IX final, 101-97.
LCCC was hampered this season by the late departures of David Appelgren and Tyrese Potoma. Appelgren – a 7-foot forward – inked with NCAA Division I Wofford College in early June. Potoma – the Eagles’ leading scorer in 2018-19 – signed with NCAA Division I Cleveland State in early August.
Ficca is 286-277 overall as a head coach. He previously was head coach at Martin Methodist in Pulaski, Tennessee, and Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon.
Ficca also served as LCCC’s athletics director from the time he arrived on campus, but relinquished those responsibilities when the school hired its first full-time AD in 2013.
Ficca said he is proud of what he accomplished during his time in Cheyenne.
“I know – and some people that matter know – what I did over 13 years and the impact I had on not just basketball and the players on the basketball team, but the whole department,” Ficca said. “In the years I spent as director, I did a lot to set some of these programs up for the success you see now.
“I hired (men’s soccer coach) Vince Gibson, and I was able to get the volleyball coaching position from part-time to full-time. I also think our coaches in other sports would tell you I did a lot for them. I’m very proud of my entire body of work.”