ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - University of Central Florida Director of Athletics Danny White announced Thursday night that head men’s basketball coach Donnie Jones has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. White informed Jones of his decision after Thursday night’s loss in the American Athletic Conference Championship to Tulane, in order to address the team before they left campus for the remainder of the UCF Spring Break.
Cameron Reynolds' 3-pointer with three minutes to go put 10th-seeded Tulane ahead and the Green Wave went on to a 65-63 first-round victory over No. 7 seed UCF at the AAC tournament.
The Green Wave (11-21) came in having lost five consecutive games, dropping two to UCF (12-18) in the regular season, and having lost seven straight to the Knights — 10 if counting three vacated wins — but won to advance to play second-seeded Houston in a Friday quarterfinal.
Reynolds' 3-pointer and then his short jumper with 1:45 left put Tulane up 59-55. UCF closed within a point, 62-61, with 19 seconds left but Reynolds made two free throws before UCF, coming out of a timeout, had an errant inbounds pass intercepted. Louis Dabney added a final free throw for Tulane.
Reynolds finished with 12 points and Dabney 13.
AJ Davis scored 20 points and Adonys Henriquez 15 for the Knights but Daiquan Walker, who averaged 26.5 points in the two regular-season wins, had just seven. UCF committed 21 turnovers.
Coach Jones compiled a record of 100-88 in his six seasons at the helm of the Knights and led the program to two postseason berths. The 2010-11 victories had to be vacated, due to NCAA sanctions.
“After a great deal of thought and deliberation, we have determined that a change in leadership for our men’s basketball program is necessary,” said White in a statement sent to FOX 35. “Donnie and his staff have been dedicated to ensuring our student-athletes become successful young men, and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication to UCF, our students and the entire Knights community over the past six years."
“I’d like to thank Dr. Hitt and the UCF community for all their support,” Jones said. “I’m extremely grateful for the young men I had a chance to learn from and help reach their dreams during my time at UCF.”
White also said a national search for the Knights’ seventh head coach in program history will begin immediately.
“We’re going to move quickly to find the right coach to lead our program and bring championships to UCF.” White said.