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Aiken out at McNeese

Mar 08, 2023 09:27AM ● By Jessica Waldrop

John Aiken has been fired at McNeese State.

Aiken, the men’s basketball coach over the past two seasons, was informed of the decision in a meeting Wednesday morning, some 13 hours after the end of the Cowboy season. 

Multiple sources confirmed long-time friend and Athletic Director Heath Schroyer gave Aiken the news after McNeese finished 11-23, the most losses in program history.

Even an exciting run to the Southland Conference Tournament semifinals — the Cowboys first trip that deep into the postseason since 2012 — couldn’t save Aiken.

The Pokes, the first eight-seed in history to advance to the SLC semis, fell to top-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 80-63 Tuesday night in the Legacy Center.

An official announcement is expected sometime later today.

Aiken’s tenure ends with a little over one year remaining on his three-year deal. His buyout of somewhere in the neighborhood of $165,000 is the highest in McNeese history. A source also said that Aiken’s staff will also be let go. 

Aiken’s two seasons were filled with disappointment and injury as the Cowboys limped to a 22-45 record under Schroyer’s former assistant and hand-picked successor. 

That is the most defeats in any two-year period for the Cowboys and included a nine-game losing streak this season.

“It’s been a hard season,” Aiken said Tuesday night. “We had a lot of things go wrong, but our kids never gave up.”

McNeese finished the year with just seven healthy bodies after injuries decimated the roster.  

Schroyer turned the program over to Aiken after he moved into the A.D. office full-time after the 2020-21 season.

Under Aiken McNeese was only 10-24 in Southland Conference play. The Cowboys did manage to win a SLC postseason game for the first time since 2015 last year and another two this season, as Aiken finished 3-2 in tournament action. 

His Pokes also won six of their last nine games, but a nine-game losing streak within the conference schedule proved too much to overcome.

Before taking over the top job in the program Aiken served as Schroyer’s top assistant for three years at McNeese. 

Aiken’s two seasons at McNeese followed the COVID pandemic and double hurricanes of 2020 that left the school’s freshly minted on-campus arena, now known as the Legacy Center, devastated. 

“It has been two of the best, two of the hardest years, but two of the best years of my life,” Aiken said.  

The search for Aiken’s successor is expected to be a quick one.