Northwestern fired Bill Carmody on Saturday after 13 years, the school announced.
Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips gathered the team together Saturday morning in Evanston, Ill., to break the news.
Carmody finished 13-19 overall this season, 4-14 in the Big Ten and lost to Iowa in the Big Ten tournament in Chicago this week.
The Wildcats failed to make an NCAA tournament under Carmody but did go to the NIT four times. Northwestern has never made the NCAAs, the only program in a power six conference never to make the field.
"Look at 13 years. Athletic success does matter. It should matter," Phillips said. "We were here a year ago. One of the key differences was, we were down to one year on Bill's contract. I didn't feel an extension was warranted. It would have been really detrimental to the program, to Bill or his staff to try to recruit with less than a year on his contract.
"So the combination of those factors resulted in us making the decision to make a change."
Carmody came to Northwestern in 2000 after four years at Princeton.
The Wildcats, riddled with injuries the past two seasons, will likely look at Duke associate head coach Chris Collins, who is from Northbrook, Ill., and according to sources, is interested. Lehigh's Brett Reed is also expected to be a strong candidate.
The Wildcats lost three of their top players this season, one at the beginning of the season to a season-long suspension in JerShon Cobb, two others to season-ending injuries after 10 games (Drew Crawford) and 24 games (Jared Swopshire).
"It was really tough. It was a tough decision," Phillips said. "Bill's a terrific person, and he did a terrific job here. As I mentioned twice, he's elevated our basketball program. But you have to go back to there being a better destination. Certainly, there's some inherent risks in that, but it was time for a change."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.