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T.J. Otzelberger lobbied for Lorenzo Romar’s return to Washington shortly before his dismissal

UPDATED: Wed., March 15, 2017, 4:06 p.m.

Washington fired head men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar on Wednesday. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Washington fired head men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar on Wednesday. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY – Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was fired on Wednesday afternoon, just a couple hours after former UW assistant and current South Dakota State coach T.J. Otzelberger made the case why Romar should be allowed to continue coaching the Huskies.

Otzelberger, whose team will face top-seeded Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, was an assistant coach under Romar from 2013-2015. He then returned to spend one season at Iowa State before getting his first head coaching job at SDSU, beginning this season.

“He’s been an unbelievable mentor to me, leader, graduation rate with young men,” Otzelberger said. “Everything he’s done as a head coach has been first class. I know that the wins and losses at this point in recent history aren’t where he’d like them to be, but I’m confident Coach Romar appreciates the relationship he’s had with me.”

“If I ever had – if my son was ever fortunate enough to play college basketball, he’d be blessed to have an opportunity to play for a man that’s as good of a person, leader and coach as Coach Romar,” Otzelberger added.

Romar was fired during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. His teams missed the NCAA tournament for six straight seasons and finished the year on a program-record 13-game losing streak.

Otzelberger, who took his team to the NCAA Tournament during his only year as a head coach, will likely be considered a dark horse candidate to replace him.

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