SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose State football coach Claude Gilbert, who build a highly-successful program by using primarily junior college players, was reassigned Wednesday because of 'philosophical differences' with the athletic department officials.
Gilbert had come under fire over the last year for focusing his recruiting efforts on junior college transfer students instead of high school seniors. After being told to limit the number of scholarships offered to JUCOs, Gilbert went out and signed 21 of them to letters of intent.
'The university seeks a new direction with its football program,' said athletic director Rick Hoffman in making the announcement. 'We have a recruiting plan in place that emphasizes the recruitment of quality student-athletes from both high school and junior college. The future of San Jose State University's football livelihood on the field is based on this recruiting philosophy.'
University officials decided late last year on the new recruiting directive after a study showed that only 14 percent of its players had graduated over the last few seasons.
'I think since I've been here my emphasis has been on the academic end of the student athlete,' Hoffman said. 'Making sure he goes to class and takes advantage of the opportunities the school offers.
'I think with all do respect, coach Gilbert felt he was here to win football games only. It's not that he didn't care. I just think think he was occupied with winning football games.'
University president Gail Fullerton said the school was willing to trade in a few victories for better performances in the classroom.
'The university's administration understands that there might be some lean years with a change in recruiting direction, but we felt it was time for a change,' Fullerton said.
A nationwide search for a new coach was launched immediately and expected to take between 6 and 8 weeks.
Gilbert was 38-30-1 in six years as the head of the Spartan program. His 1986 squad won the conference title, was ranked for much of the year by UPI and capped its season with a victory over Miami of Ohio in the California Bowl. The next season, the Spartans successfully defended their title behind the play of quarterback Mike Perez.
He will now be assigned to the alumni office.