June is normally a very quiet time for college basketball. It has been two months since the Final Four. No sports are taking place and most of the students are at their homes. Recruiting for the upcoming 2009-10 is just about complete.
It was announced today by Fairleigh Dickinson University Athletic Director, David Langford, that men's head basketball coach Tom Green has been fired from the university.
This is an absolute stunner to anyone who has followed FDU basketball or any fan of the Northeast Conference. Tom Green was not only the head coach of Fairleigh Dickinson basketball, he is Fairleigh Dickinson basketball.
But after 26 seasons, 400 wins, four trips to the NCAA tournament, 17 winning seasons, and the most tenured basketball coach in the state of New Jersey (New Jersey has seven Division I schools), Green was let go.
You can read more about this on an article I wrote about the history of Fairleigh Dickinson basketball about a month ago.
Coach Green was reached for comment and said the following:
"I had lunch with my boss (Langford) three weeks ago. We spoke about the '09-10 season, and the recruits we have coming in...All my conversations since then with David Langford have either been about academics or about next year."
"Our last game was the last week of February. If this had happened in the beginning of March, or the middle of March, or even the beginning of April...as a Division 1 college basketball coach who has been around, I've got to understand that.
"But to do it in the last half-hour on the last working day in May shows a lack of respect for me as a person, a coach, and a loyal employee for 26 years."
I have a feeling there is something more behind this than just Green's last three under-performing seasons at FDU. The Knights were a combined 29-59 over the last three seasons, after two straight seasons making it to the Northeast Conference Championship game.
I know a couple of the student-athletes had academic difficulties, including starting guard Cameron Tyler, who returned to the team in the 2008-09 season after sitting out a year on academic probation.
I do not know if this was just Langford's decision or if the University's President, J. Michael Adams wanted to see the program go in a new direction. Fairleigh Dickinson is a private institution and Green's salary is not released. I do not know if this was done as a cost-cutting procedure.
You would have to believe that if this was based on the team's performance, Green should have been let go a few months ago. To see this firing done now, makes me think either Green had done something wrong, the basketball program is being cut, or some other coach is coming.
I am not sure what the FDU Athletic Director has up his sleeve for Green's replacement, but it better be something huge.
The foundation of the program has been removed.
The University's Athletic Director, David Langford released this statement to the media:
“We are so grateful to Coach Green for all that he has been able to do in his time at Fairleigh Dickinson, he has given a great deal to this University and department and we look forward to building on the legacy that he founded.”
Yes, David Langford, he founded the legacy here and he should be the one to decide how to see it come to an end. I am not sure if this was Langford's decision, so I do not want to put too much blame on the messenger just yet.
I would rather have 10 more losing seasons and have Coach Green retire than see the team make it to the Final Four. Coach Green meant that much to this program.
Tom Green, based on his stellar performance, had chances to move to schools with a bigger name, better conference, and better facilities. But he chose to stay where his heart was and that was in a place called Hackensack, at a school named Fairleigh Dickinson.
A class act was fired today in what seems like a crass move by an AD who acted like a snake in the grass.
Thank you for all of the great memories, Coach Green. You are the Knight that put the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights on the national scene in college basketball.
It's June, and usually I am thinking that the college basketball season cannot start soon enough. Today, I wish that the season would not start for another 10 years.