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Amaker fired

Failure to reach NCAA tourney costs Michigan coach

Posted: Saturday March 17, 2007 2:33PM; Updated: Saturday March 17, 2007 5:06PM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker was fired Saturday following six seasons leading the program without an NCAA tournament appearance.

"I'm not going to make excuses," Amaker said in an interview before he was scheduled to appear at a news conference.

Amaker's firing was first reported Saturday by the Detroit Free-Press, then confirmed by SI.com's Seth Davis.

Before this season started, Amaker said it was fair to expect the Wolverines to reach the NCAA tournament. They ended up playing in the NIT for the third time in four years and were eliminated from that tournament two days ago.

"Letting Tommy go was the toughest decision I've had to make in seven years as athletic director," Michigan athletic director Bill Martin told The Associated Press. "He took over a program that needed help, and he helped it in a lot of ways. But at Michigan, we have a tradition of winning Big Ten and national championships and we haven't been close to doing either in a lot of ways."

The Wolverines finished 22-13, with an 87-66 loss at Florida State on Thursday night.

"There were moments of delight and success (this season)," Martin said. "But we didn't make the NCAA tournament and that was the goal. To that extent, it was a disappointment."

Amaker's career record at Michigan was 109-83 overall -- with three 20-win seasons -- and 43-53 in the Big Ten.

He was under contract through the 2010-11 season, but the school could fire him without cause by giving him $900,000, according to his contract, which was obtained last week by the AP in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Amaker had to be employed as Michigan's coach on March 31, 2011, to earn a deferred-compensation package after the school's annual contributions of $100,000. By firing him, the school keeps the invested money, according to the contract.

Michigan hired Amaker on hired March 29, 2001, after firing Brian Ellerbe.

He inherited a mess, stemming from the Ed Martin scandal, the school's lackluster facilities and Ellerbe's awful recruiting.

Martin, a now-deceased former booster, told the federal government he lent $616,000 to ex-Wolverines Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock in what the NCAA said was the largest financial scandal in its history.

Michigan was 18-12 overall and 10-6 during the 2002-03 season -- Amaker's second year -- but the Wolverines were ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions.

In four seasons at Seton Hall, Amaker led the Pirates to a 68-55 record, a trip to the round of 16 in the 2000 NCAA tournament and three NIT bids.

The native of Falls Church, Va., spent nine years on Mike Krzyzewski's staff at Duke, where he was a four-year starter in the mid-1980s.

Amaker's wife, Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, is the University of Michigan's associate dean of students.

Martin said he had a list of candidates, but declined to identify any of the coaches.

"Michigan's basketball opening is going to be a highly sought after job," he said. "I want to move as quickly as I can, but some of the coaches we're might be interested in are still coaching in the NCAA tournament."