Shyatt regrets how he left Wyoming 13 years ago

Published: Friday, April 1, 2011 at 5:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 at 5:38 p.m.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — New Wyoming men's basketball coach Larry Shyatt says he has always regretted how he left Laramie during his first coaching stint at the university and he sees his return as a chance to redeem himself.

“This is sort of like a dream come true that we can do this,” Shyatt said Friday. “Now I hope I can deliver the goods and bring back that spirit and competitiveness and winning. But there is no scenario I could have created ... that could be better than this.”

Shyatt was head coach for Wyoming during the 1997-98 season — his first head coaching job. But he abruptly left after that season to take the head coaching job at Clemson. He has been an associate head coach and assistant coach at Florida since 2004.

“I do understand at that time that there were some feelings hurt and believe me we regretted that, and that is one of the reasons why we chose to return,” he said.

Shyatt said he and his family have talked for years about returning to Wyoming.

He vowed to give back “10-fold whatever I have” to the Wyoming job and “repay these people who were so kind to us 13 years ago.”

Shyatt, 59, said he sees this as his last college coaching job. He signed a five-year contract with a base pay of $190,000 a year. That could go up to $645,000 a year with incentives.

He was hired Thursday to replace Heath Schroyer, who was fired in February.

Shyatt said the Wyoming job is a challenge that gives him the opportunity to have a greater impact as a coach than if he had stayed at Florida.

Shyatt takes over a program that has been struggling over recent years. Wyoming finished 10-21 and just 3-13 in the Mountain West Conference this season.

Over three and a half years under Schroyer, the Pokes were 49-68 with their only winning season coming in 2008-09.

“We're not expecting Larry to come in here and work magic, but we also are sure hoping he can because we believe we have a really good group of young men who have a strong desire to finish on a high note, especially that group of seniors,” Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman said.

Burman said Shyatt had been on his list when he hired Schroyer in 2007 to replace Steve McClain. But Shyatt said the job opened and was filled while Florida was still competing for its national title in the NCAA tournament that year.

When Shyatt got the Wyoming job the first time, he entered a similar situation but led the Cowboys to a 19-9 record that one season. Shyatt's record over five seasons at Clemson was 70-84.

Shyatt said his first order of business is to embrace the current members of the team.

Center Adam Waddell, who will be a senior next year, said he was excited about Shyatt taking over.

“The only thing we can do now is move forward, and I'm so excited to move forward and to start working on next year,” Waddell said.

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