Created:Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:53 p.m.CDT

NIU AD committed to Patton

Northern Illinois coach Ricardo Patton has endured a tough third season with the Huskies, but has the support of NIU athletic director Jeff Compher. (Chronicle file photo)

DeKALB – Northern Illinois athletic director Jeff Compher said Tuesday in a one-on-one interview with the Daily Chronicle that he is committed to men’s basketball coach Ricardo Patton.

“He’s our coach,” Compher said. “We’re committed to his success and the success of the team.”

When asked if he could say if Patton would return for a fourth season in DeKalb, Compher said: “He is our coach and I’m committed to him and I see no reason why that wouldn’t be the case.”

Patton’s Huskies are mired in a 10-game losing streak and have gone from first place in the Mid-American Conference West Division after a school-record 4-0 start to 4-9 and 11th in the MAC. In almost three seasons at NIU, Patton’s record stands at 24-60 and 12-32 in MAC play.

Patton said he believes he has the support of the administration at NIU.

“I think that the administration understands where the program was when we took over,” Patton said. “We had to come in and lay a foundation and put some things in place. Unfortunately, it’s taken more time than any of us wanted it to have taken.

“There are no quick fixes. There are no easy solutions when you’re trying to do things the right way. We didn’t come in with with a quick agenda to go out and sign a ton of junior college players and run the risk of those guys not graduating. So we’re trying to do it the right way with young guys and have them grow and develop.”

Compher had similar sentiments about the progress of the men’s basketball team under Patton.

“I think when you’re building a program, you take three steps forward and two steps back,” Compher said. “It takes time to get there.”

Compher acknowledged the frustration that fans have felt watching NIU fall in the standings and virtually out of the possibility of even hosting a first-round game of the MAC Tournament.

“Just kind of disappointment. I think there were high expectations,” Compher said. “There is some disappointment that, man, I wish we could have done better. You could see the crowds hoping that too and the energy that was generated in the [Convocation Center] was pretty good.

“You still see flashes of that. But I think it’s mainly a disappointment that we couldn’t sustain our streak. We started a losing streak. No one wants to be a part of that. And no one is working any harder than our coaches to stop it.”

Patton said the past 10 games have been a tough stretch and one that he hopes will end today against Central Michigan (13-13, 7-6 MAC) at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

“Like any coach that’s gone through the stretch we’ve gone through, there have been a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of trying to fix things and put the pieces in place,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re still missing a few pieces to this puzzle we’re putting together.”

After this season, Patton has two years left on his initial five-year contract that calls for him to make $300,000 a year.

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