Craig Neal fired as New Mexico head coach after 17-14 season

New Mexico has fired men's basketball head coach Craig Neal, the school announced late Friday.

The decision comes just three weeks after athletic director Paul Krebs announced Neal would be returning as coach next season.

The Lobos finished 17-14 and failed to earn an NCAA tournament berth for the third straight year.

"The University of New Mexico is grateful for the service and dedication that Coach Neal gave to Lobo basketball," Krebs said in a prepared statement. "He's a good man and a winning coach, but the time has come to move Lobo Basketball in a new direction. We will begin a search for a new coach immediately and look forward to building on the winning tradition of Lobo Basketball."

Hired to replace Steve Alford in 2013, Neal led New Mexico to a 27-7 record, a Mountain West Conference title and an NCAA tournament berth in his first season. The Lobos rewarded him with a contract extension through the 2019-20 season, along with a $1 million buyout.

Since then, New Mexico has a combined 49-45 record over the past three seasons.