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There is a strong sentiment within the athletic department to fire Crowton, whose third consecutive losing season ended Nov. 20 with a lopsided loss to rival Utah.

Crowton met with school officials Monday night, emerging from a more than three-hour meeting at the Abraham O. Smoot administration building looking downcast. Crowton was cordial but initially declined to comment on what had just transpired at the meeting.

As he walked away, however, Crowton turned. "Nothing happened," he said. "It was just a review."

Crowton met with Fred SkouĀsen, BYU's vice president of advancement who is the senior administrator over the athletic department, and with Peter Pilling and Tom Holmoe, the two senior associate athletic directors who are in charge of the day-to-day operations of athletics. BYU has been without an athletic director since it fired Val Hale in September.

Crowton left the meeting, which began at 4 p.m., at 7:10. The three administrators emerged as a group about 15 minutes later.

Skousen hurried off and did not comment.

Holmoe said the meeting was "one of a series of conversations" that has been held recently regarding the future of Crowton and the football program.

Holmoe did not disclose whether a final decision to fire or retain Crowton had been made, but noted, "It is fair to say that it's in the best interest of the program to have a resolution in the next day or two."

Sources indicated the call whether to fire Crowton would be made by BYU President Cecil Samuelson, to whom Skousen reports.

In the event of a Crowton dismissal, an announcement was expected today, sources said.

Crowton, 47, became only the second BYU football coach since 1972 when he replaced the legendary Lavell Edwards after the 2000 season.

In his first year, Crowton guided the Cougars to 12 straight wins. But the season ended with consecutive losses to Hawaii and Louisville, starting a downward spiral that continued through this season.

BYU opened with promising victory over Notre Dame, but consecutive losses to Stanford, top-ranked Southern Cal and Boise State left the Cougars' record at 1-3.

BYU bounced back with an impressive win at Colorado State, but an inexplicable loss to Mountain West Conference bottom feeder UNLV again raised widespread questions about Crowton's ability to turn around his team, which at that point had lost 21 of its previous 32 games.

With two weeks left in the season, BYU rebounded and owned a 5-4 record. The Cougars seemed ticketed for its first bowl appearance since 2001. But a home loss to New Mexico dropped them to .500, and Utah ended their season by thrashing BYU in the finale at Rice Eccles Stadium.

In his four seasons at BYU, Crowton has guided the Cougars to a record of 26-23, including 16-13 in the Mountain West Conference.

During the past three seasons, however, BYU went 9-13 in the league, including three straight losses to Utah.

A native of Orem, Crowton played collegiately at Colorado State but earned his degree from BYU in 1983.

Before becoming the Cougars' head coach, Crowton was the offensive coordinator of the NFL's Chicago Bears and head coach at Louisiana Tech.

Football staff members whose own futures hinged on Crowton's said they spent Monday "nervously," according to one, awaiting word about their boss. None had heard anything late Monday night.

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