76ers hire former Buckeyes head coach - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

76ers hire former Buckeyes head coach

By ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Randy Ayers was promoted from assistant to head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday after being far down on the list of choices to replace Larry Brown.

Ayers, a former Ohio State coach, spent the last six seasons as Brown's assistant. He was the Buckeyes' coach the previous eight years, going 124-108. Brown resigned last month and is now the Detroit Pistons' coach.

Ayers' hiring was reported Thursday by The Associated Press.

He joins a team that went 48-34 last season and won a first-round playoff series over New Orleans before losing to Detroit in six games.

Brown, a Hall of Famer, took Philadelphia to the NBA Finals in 2001. But injuries, questionable personnel moves and clashes with Allen Iverson have hindered the team since.

Ayers (pictured, above) was far from the 76ers' first choice. Team president Billy King initially tried to get permission to speak to Portland coach Maurice Cheeks, a former 76ers' star. Also, former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy and Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said they weren't interested in the job after speaking to King. Van Gundy took over in Houston, replacing Rudy Tomjanovich.

King also interviewed Eddie Jordan, who was hired by Washington on Thursday, former Atlanta coach Mike Fratello, Hawks interim coach Terry Stotts, 76ers assistant Mike Woodson and Miami Heat assistant Bob McAdoo.

Ayers led Ohio State to four postseason appearances and was the AP Coach of the Year in 1991 after the Buckeyes went 27-4 and won the first of consecutive Big Ten championships.

But his tenure at Ohio State ended with four consecutive losing seasons and a spate of off-court troubles. As a result of 17 rules violations, the Buckeyes were put on probation by the NCAA.

Only 15 of the 33 players Ayers brought into the basketball program exhausted their eligibility. And many got into trouble with the law.

After Ayers was fired, five of his recruits were dismissed or left the program with the approval of his successor, Jim O'Brien.

Before going to Ohio State, Ayers coached two years at Army and was a graduate assistant at his alma mater.

Ayers played four seasons at Miami of Ohio, and was selected in the third round of the 1978 NBA draft by Chicago. He was cut before the season started, played one year of professional ball in Reno, Nev., and then began his coaching career.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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