UAB fires men's basketball coach Mike Davis

JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer Published:

UAB fired basketball coach Mike Davis on Friday following his sixth season, a year after he led the Blazers to a fourth-consecutive 20-win season and the NCAA tournament.

Davis couldn't sustain the momentum, and a depleted squad fell to 15-16 -- matching the record from his first season.

Athletic director Brian Mackin said wins and losses weren't the only factor, also citing waning fan support and lack of postseason success.

"As the athletic director, I looked at the big picture of the program and where we are right now. I made an evaluation looking at the full body of work," Mackin said. "While our team has experienced a certain level of success during the past six years, we are not where we want to be.

"We have seen an increase in apathy among our fans, a noticeable drop in attendance, as well as a decrease in ticket revenues and scholarship dollars."

The Blazers remained ninth in Conference USA in attendance last season, but the average crowd at Bartow Arena dropped from 5,920 in 2010-11 to 5,546. The Blazers also had trouble scoring after replacing league player of the year Aaron Johnson at point guard, ranking 11th in C-USA at 60.5 points a game.

In a statement Davis said: "I respect their decision and really appreciate the opportunity to be the head men's basketball coach at UAB."

His voice mailbox was full and he did not immediately return a text message from The Associated Press.

Davis was far more defiant on March 7 when asked about his job security. He remained on the bench after enduring the death of his mother in October, and lost two cousins over the summer.

"For someone to speculate on that is an insult to me as a coach," Davis told The Birmingham News. "My body of work speaks for itself. I would think. No one could have gone through what I've gone through the way I've stood up."

Davis led the Blazers to the NIT three times and took them to the NCAA tournament for the first time during the 2010-11 season. They also claimed their first C-USA regular season title. It earned the former Indiana coach league coach of the year honors, but no raise or contract extension.

Mackin said he and Davis met Wednesday and he informed him of his decision at 11 a.m. Friday morning.

"Mike had one year left on his contract and it really boiled down to what is in UAB's best interest going forward," Mackin said. "I came to the decision, if Mike is not going to be the long-term coach, I felt it was best to begin the process and go ahead and release him."

The Blazers had only two starters back this season, including preseason C-USA player of the year Cameron Moore, and no other returning players who averaged more than 3.9 points.

Davis posted a 122-73 record and had one year remaining on his $625,000-a-year deal. This was only the third losing season in the program's history and the second under Davis.

Mackin had fired football coach Neil Callaway in November, hiring Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee. He said a national search for Davis's replacement will begin immediately.

UAB beat Tulane to open the C-USA tournament, but lost 64-54 to UCF in the quarterfinals.

Davis, a Fayette, Ala., native, was the state's Mr. Basketball and then played for the University of Alabama, where he was known for his tough, scrappy defense.

He spent two seasons as an Alabama assistant and three on Knight's Indiana staff before getting elevated to the head job for a six-year stint that included a loss to Maryland in the 2002 national title game.