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Mason speaks out on recent Williams firing

November 8, 2002

MSU Athletics Director Ron Mason said he never expected such big problems only four months into his five-year term.

“It’s really been kind of unfortunate and a sad time for MSU athletics that something like this has to come down,” Mason said concerning the football team. “But in big time college sports, it does go on and it’s not something you’re really going to avoid. There aren’t too many places where coaches stay there 25 years. But at the start of the season, I had no idea anything like this would ever happen.”

On Monday he fired head football coach Bobby Williams and now the public is debating whether his decision was distasteful or racially motivated.

Mason spoke with The State News on Thursday and said he is somewhat surprised on the discussions about race and stands by his statement that race was not a factor in his decision.

“I am surprised in some respects,” Mason said. “It had nothing to do with it, period. Basically, it didn’t matter who was in that position over there. People, if they know me, know better than to think that.”

Mason also said he feels he acted fairly in dealing with the firing. But Williams and some fans feel otherwise. Williams taped an interview for ESPN’s “College GameDay” that will air 10:30 a.m. Saturday, and said he thinks he should have been allowed to finish the season.

“He can say what he wants to say,” Mason said. “I haven’t actually seen it, but I’ve heard some things other people are saying about it.”

Mason wouldn’t comment on whether he, Williams and MSU administrators brokered a deal that would have kept Williams in his job until the end of the season. But he said there was a “give and take with Bobby.”

There is still no timetable set for replacing Williams, Mason said. He said the job process will keep with the MSU tradition of supporting diversity.


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