Binghamton fires coach Mark Macon

VESTAL, N.Y. -- Binghamton fired men's basketball coach Mark Macon on Monday and began a national search for a replacement.

Director of athletics Patrick Elliott made the announcement, saying the decision "comes after a thorough assessment of our current program and my expectations for the future."

"Mark Macon led the program during an extremely difficult period," Elliott, who took over as athletic director in November, said in a statement. "I appreciate and thank him for his efforts."

Macon, a star in college at Temple, said he was "surprised" at the move. His contract went through February 2014.

"In this job, you're hired to be fired," Macon said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "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."

Assistant coaches Ron Brown and Julius Smith also are not being retained.

Macon spent four years at Binghamton and compiled a 24-68 record in three seasons as head coach.

Macon took over after Kevin Broadus was suspended for recruiting violations in October 2009 and eventually let go. Six players were dismissed from that team, some for committing criminal acts, as the university was criticized for compromising academics for athletic success.

The Bearcats took the America East Conference title and won the conference tournament to earn their first berth in the NCAA tournament in March 2009.

The fall from that championship season was swift and deep as the school hit rock bottom.

The Bearcats lost their first 26 games this past season before shedding the dubious distinction of being the only winless team in Division I. They upset Vermont 57-53 at home in late February to snap a 27-game skid and finished 2-29, the worst record in program history.

Binghamton had not won a game since March 3, 2011, a 91-65 triumph over Maryland-Baltimore County in the first round of the America East tournament. Binghamton lost to Vermont 57-46 in the next round -- the Bearcats' final game of 2010-11 -- and the skid began.

Macon was staring at an uphill climb. He lost both captains and three starters from that team, which won only eight games, and had six freshmen, four sophomores and no seniors in 2011-12.

Freshman forward Ben Dickinson, the team's second-leading scorer (13.5) and leading rebounder (6.1) last season, and freshman guard Chris Longoria already have said they intend to transfer, according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton.