- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Duquesne has fired men's basketball coach Ron Everhart.
Everhart told ESPN.com Friday that he was informed Thursday night of his dismissal. He had two years left on his contract, and was given a buyout.
"I called in and was told they want to go in a different direction," Everhart said.
Everhart said he was told that part of the reason for the split was the announced departures of three players, including sophomore T.J. McConnell, who was the third-leading scorer on the team with 11.4 points a game.
"We are trying to get this thing to the next level," athletic director Greg Amodio said at a news conference Friday. "And we reached the point where we said: 'Do we need to get new leadership to help us get there?' "
The Dukes finished 16-15 overall, 7-9 record in the Atlantic 10. Everhart had made them competitive during his six seasons in Pittsburgh, with three postseason appearances. However, they lost this season to UMass in the first round of the conference tournament.
His best season came in 2008-09, when the Dukes advanced to the Atlantic 10 tournament title game, before falling to Temple. They landed in the NIT that season, losing to Virginia Tech.
"The five straight winning seasons we had were the first time in 40 years here," Everhart said. "I'm pretty proud of that. But I appreciate the opportunity they gave me. At the end of the day, if I'm not the right guy, then I have to respect that."
Everhart coached for five seasons at Northeastern and seven at McNeese State.
His overall record at Duquesne was 99-89 overall, 46-50 in the A-10.
McConnell's decision to leave was unexpected.
But last season's conference rookie of the year, like most of the team, struggled at key times this season, and the Dukes lost five of their last six games.
"Although the program has improved, our goal has always been to compete for the A-10 championship and consistently be in the hunt for high-level postseason play," Amodio said.
Everhart's assistant coaches will not be retained.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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