RICHMOND, Va. -- A message on a billboard towering over Interstate 95 in Richmond has called for the firing of University of Richmond's men's head basketball coach Chris Mooney.
The scrolling digital billboard, off Cummings Drive, read "Save Richmond Basketball #FireMooney."
Coach Mooney is currently in his 14th season as Spiders head coach.
An anonymous group made up of Spiders alumni and fans said on Thursday they rented the space for a month. The group stated they were unhappy with Mooney's performance.
"[The team] has failed to make the NCAA tournament in the past seven years and is on the brink of its second straight embarrassing losing season," the group said in a statement released to the media.
The team's record so far this season is 11-15.
"We are choosing to remain anonymous because there are a number of us and we don't want any one person singled out by those who disagree with our actions here," the statement continued.
They added, "There were a couple dozen of us who contributed. We'd rather not discuss the price, since that was between us and the leasing agent. But it was not an exorbitant cost. We are all longtime fans and alumni of the school."
Mooney last took the Spiders to the NCAA Tournament and Sweet 16 in 2011, but hasn't returned since.
University of Richmond Associate Director of Athletic Public Relations Jason Vida told CBS 6 they were aware of the campaign and said, "no comment."
The group's full statement read:
We are a group of Richmond basketball fans and UR alumni frustrated with the tenure of head coach Chris Mooney. Today, we rented space on a billboard on Interstate 95 in Richmond to express our frustrations. The billboard will remain active for the next month.
We are disappointed that it has come to this, but we have tried numerous other actions – calls, conversations and emails to athletic department staff members, ceasing donations to the university and athletic department, stopping our season ticket purchases – without any resolution or sense that any is coming.
The issue is clear – Coach Mooney has failed to live up to the 10-year, $13-million contract he signed in 2011. Our program has clearly underachieved since then, has failed to make the NCAA tournament in the past seven years and is on the brink of its second straight embarrassing losing season. New leadership is necessary.
During the past two years, we've lost home games to Delaware, Longwood, Jacksonville State, Oral Roberts, Hampton, La Salle – all programs with significantly inferior basketball and university resources than we have and most from inferior leagues.
We love our program. We hate what has happened to it. We have talented players who deserve a better fate than battling it out for the basement of the A10. We've witnessed talent like Kendall Anthony, TJ Cline, ShawnDre Jones, Terry Allen and others come and go without an NCAA appearance. We want better for our current group of players.
Nearly every other Division I program in the nation at our level would have moved on from a coach by this point. We like Chris Mooney as a person. We do not like him as a coach, and he must be fired.
Some will say that this is inappropriate and petty or that it will hurt our chances to attract players or our next coach. We disagree strongly. We are passionate fans who want only the best for this program and university, nothing more.
Spider basketball used to be fun, but now it is horribly stale. We want our program back.