Tom Green has been fired as the basketball coach at Fairleigh Dickinson after leading the Knights to 407 wins and four NCAA tournament appearances in a 26-year tenure.
He guided the Knights to 17 winning seasons, but they won just 15 games over the past two seasons and had three straight losing seasons.
"I had no idea whatsoever," Green said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Friday night. "This was a total shock to me."
Athletic Director David Langford said that Green, 59, was told of the decision last week.
"As you can imagine it is never easy to let anyone go," Langford said Friday. "It was a very difficult decision."
Green said that he and Langford talked about the basketball program three weeks ago and focused solely on the team and academics. Green added that he expected a rebuilding season two years ago, but noted that injuries the past two years have hurt his team.
Green said his team had one of its best academic performances this past year, so the classroom was not the problem. He said he asked why he was released and was not given a reason.
"He told me two years ago not to worry about wins and losses and concentrate on academics," Green said.
Langford refused to comment on the idea that Green was blindsided by the firing. He acknowledged that the timing of the move was not the best, coming more than three months after Fairleigh Dickinson finished its season. The process of making the decision took longer than expected, he said.
An interim coach will be hired for next season, Langford said, adding there is a strong possibility that one of Green's three assistants _ Ron Brown, Jared Stephans or Gregory Vetrone _ will get the job.
Green said his former assistants were all interviewed Friday and told that one of them would be the interim coach.
"This is how they treat someone who has been a loyal ambassador of the school for the past 26 years?" Green said. "If he wanted to fire me in March, I could have accepted that. This is not how I expected to be treated."
Green leaves as the all-time leader in wins at Fairleigh Dickinson (407-351) as well as in Northeast Conference history (263-189). He also led the Knights to two NIT appearances, while leading the program to five regular-season NEC titles and four conference tournament titles.
Fairleigh Dickinson won two ECAC Metro championships before appearing in nine NEC championship games and reaching the NEC tournament 17 out of the 20 years in which it has been a member.