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Florida State fires basketball coach Steve Robinson

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Former University of Tulsa basketball coach Steve Robinson was fired Monday after coaching Florida State to four straight losing seasons _ and one big upset victory.

Robinson was 64-86 in five years at Florida State, but just 46-72 over the last four seasons and 25-55 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

``We haven't won a lot of games and that's why we're here today,'' athletic director David Hart Jr. said. ``We just couldn't turn the corner competitively.''

Hart said he had expected a breakout year for the Seminoles but ``we're still trying to learn how to win. It's nobody's fault, it just didn't happen.''

Robinson, 44, had two years left on a contract that was extended for that period in 1999 by Hart.

``I always held out hope we could turn it around,'' Robinson said Monday. ``I'll be a better person, better coach, for the experience.''

He said he hoped to stay in coaching.

Hart said Robinson would be paid $250,000 to cover the remaining two years on his base salary and that he would immediately begin looking for a new coach.

``You'd like to move as quickly as possible,'' said Hart, who didn't rule out finding a prominent assistant coach to bring in.

Possible successors include Richmond coach John Beilein, Tennessee Tech's Jeff Lebo, Davidson's Bob McKillop, Western Kentucky's Dennis Felton, Winthrop's Gregg Marshall, Hampton's Steve Merfeld and Florida assistant John Pelfrey.

Robinson, a one-time assistant at Kansas under Roy Williams, came to Florida State in 1997 after two successful seasons at Tulsa, where his teams were 46-18 and made consecutive NCAA postseason tournaments.

Florida State scored arguably the biggest upset of the season _ and the biggest in the basketball program's history _ when it snapped Duke's 22-game winning streak with a 77-76 victory on Jan. 6, but went 4-12 after that game.

Despite a soft nonconference schedule designed to help shore up Robinson's job, Florida State made only marginal improvement on last year's 9-21 record _ the school's worst in 50 years.

A coaching change has been expected since the Seminoles, who finished 12-17, were upset twice in December by American and Western Carolina.

The team hit rock bottom in the ACC in late January when winless Georgia Tech rocked the Seminoles 77-46.

Each of Robinson's teams at Florida State struggled late in the season, managing only a 9-27 record in the month of February.

Booster frustration also mounted as local prep star Brett Blizzard, whom Florida State didn't recruit, became a star at North Carolina-Wilmington, where he was named the Colonial Conference Player of the Year and led his team to the NCAA tournament.
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