Mark Macon, head coach of Binghamton University’s men’s basketball team, has been fired.
Macon led one of the worst teams in college basketball this year, and was one of the few holdovers from an era that put the program in the national spotlight for a notorious scandal that cost the jobs of his predecessor and several top University administrators.
Athletic director Patrick Elliott announced on Monday that Macon had been let go, effective immediately. He said a search for his replacement would begin shortly.
“I want to have a quality men’s basketball program with quality students, quality athletes and quality citizens,” Elliott said.
Macon told The Associated Press that he was not bitter at the University’s decision.
“In this job, you’re hired to be fired,” Macon said. “I don’t hold any ill will toward Binghamton University. They gave me a great opportunity and I’m just grateful to have had that chance. It was just amazing to get an opportunity to be a head coach.”
Binghamton will honor Macon’s contract, which was extended last year through February 2014 by former athletic director Jim Norris. Macon is set to earn an estimated $300,000.
Rob Mansell, a sophomore who lead the team in scoring, wrote in an email to Pipe Dream that Macon would be missed, even though the decision to release him was understandable.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, but people need to understand that this is a business,” Mansell said. “And in a business, if you don’t produce, they’re going to let you go. Coach Macon will definitely be missed though.”
The decision is the latest item on a string of bad news for the program. Less than two weeks ago, it was reported that two assistant coaches, Ron Brown and Julius Smith, would not have their contracts renewed. Shortly thereafter, freshmen Ben Dickinson and Chris Longoria confirmed that they will transfer out of Binghamton at the year’s end.
“We spent a lot of time looking at a whole list of different things,” Elliott said. “I just came to the conclusion that I needed to make a change in leadership and now was the time to do it for the future.”
Macon inherited a program in shambles. He succeeded Kevin Broadus as head coach in 2009 after a series of academic and criminal transgressions resulted in a SUNY investigation of the program, as well as six player dismissals, the resignation of Director of Athletics Joel Thirer and the retirement of former University President Lois DeFleur.
But Macon’s tenure is highlighted by a lack of progress for the program. Macon had a 24-68 record during his time as head coach, and after posting a 2-29 record in the 2011-12 season, the status of the program is similar to, if not worse than, what it was in 2009.
Elliott noted that a national search for a new coach will begin soon, and that a new coach will be in place in time to “have an opportunity to recruit their own student-athletes.” Though no specific candidates have been named, Elliott said he is placing a priority on recruiting experience at the Division I level.
Despite the program’s seemingly inseparable tie to the events that transpired in 2009, Elliott stressed his belief that the position will be highly sought after. Even following a season that began with 26 consecutive losses — and has now ended with two confirmed transfers — BU’s athletic director was confident he won’t need to sell the position.
“I think this is one of the best mid-major jobs in the country,” he said. “We have one of the best facilities I’ve seen, we’ve led this league in attendance the last nine years and we have the best community support that I’ve seen. This is a quality job, and there are a lot of people who are going to be interested in it.”