Bjork: WKU taking evaluation of basketball programs day by day

Former WKU Athletics Director Ross Bjork accepted the same position at Ole Miss on Wednesday. Bjork was responsible for a number of changes in WKU’s athletic programs, including the firing of both men’s and women’s basketball coaches this season.

Zach Greenwell

WKU Athletics Director Ross Bjork broke his silence Saturday on the struggles of the school’s basketball programs, offering to speak with the media after the Toppers’ 78-73 loss to Florida Atlantic.

Bjork said he’s aware of fans’ displeasure with the way things have gone this year, and he stressed that his department feels the same way.

“The expectations are very high. People like to win,” Bjork said. “They like to be competitive on a national stage, so we embrace that. It’s our job to live up to it, so of course we’re disappointed with the seasons — both on the men’s and women’s side.”

Bjork didn’t offer a firm statement on Head Coach Ken McDonald’s status moving forward, saying that it’s an ongoing process.

WKU media relations asked reporters to refrain from asking about specific hypothetical situations or personnel changes.

“Honestly, what I’m worried about is how they feel after this game and supporting them because they played hard, and we saw some good signs,” Bjork said. “I’m worried about Thursday night at South Alabama.”

Bjork was asked whether or not WKU would be willing to make a change midseason, or if all evaluation would take place once the season had ended. Bjork didn’t give a definitive answer but did say that talks are always ongoing with all coaches.

“We have frequent communication with all of our coaches, and basketball is no different,” he said. “We treat all of our sports the same, and it’s frequent communication. I talked to Ken this afternoon, I talked to him before they went to Troy, I talked to Mary after the trip. We’re always talking to our coaches about what’s needed to get better each and every day.”

The Toppers’ loss to FAU was their sixth straight, dropping them to 0-4 in the Sun Belt Conference for the first time in their 29 years in the league.

The Lady Toppers and coach Mary Taylor Cowles haven’t fared much better, starting the season 6-11 overall and 3-2 in the Sun Belt.

“They know the expectations,” Bjork said. “They’ve signed up here, and I’ve signed up here. Mary’s disappointed, and she’s expressed that, Ken is disappointed and expressed that. To me, there’s no one fighting harder than the coaches and players — both men and women — trying to get this thing turned around, and we’re behind them.”

Bjork said he was grateful for the nearly 3,000 fans that came out to Diddle Arena Saturday night despite WKU’s recent turmoil.

But for now, he said fans need to know that the school is focusing on righting the ship before tossing people off it.

“Athletics is cyclical,” he said. “You’re up one day, and you’re down the next. We have to stay the course, we have to be diligent about our jobs, but we do acknowledge that we’re disappointed … and we’re going to try every single day to get better.”