Dana Kirk Fired by Memphis St.; Target in Probe

Associated Press

Dana Kirk, who coached Memphis State into the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. basketball tournament the last five seasons but who had come under scrutiny as part of a gambling investigation, was fired by the university Wednesday.

Kirk, 51, the head coach at Memphis State for seven seasons, during which he compiled a 158-58 record, had acknowledged that his personal finances were under review by a federal grand jury but had denied any wrongdoing.

He was called before the grand jury after the panel began investigating sports betting in the Memphis area. The probe into gambling has led to indictments against suspected bookmakers in the area but has not resulted in charges against anyone associated with the university.

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported earlier this month that federal authorities looking into Kirk's finances subpoenaed records of a contract he held with four Memphis car dealers.

Ford dealer Tommy Keesee Jr. said Kirk was paid a salary and was furnished with a car while acting as a spokesman for the Metro Ford Dealers Assn. Keesee said that Internal Revenue Service agents have sought copies of the contract.

IRS agents also subpoenaed records of Kirk's dealings with Memphis radio and television stations where he has conducted sports talk shows.

Besides his salary for those shows, Kirk was paid $500 for an interview before Memphis State's appearance at the NCAA's 1984-85 Final Four, said Jack Eaton, sports director at WMC-TV.

Eaton said that Kirk was also paid $1,200 to clear the way for several of his players to be interviewed.

In his first two years, Kirk finished with losing records.

A native of Logan, W. Va., Kirk came to Memphis State after serving as head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University for three seasons. He was an assistant coach at Louisville for five years and was head coach at the University of Tampa from 1967 until 1971.

Memphis State President Thomas Carpenter said in a statement, "The termination of Mr. Kirk's services is based upon the university's decision to change the leadership of the men's basketball program."

Larry Finch, an assistant, will serve as interim coach until a replacement for Kirk can be found.

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