Travis Steele out as Xavier Musketeers men's basketball coach

Adam Kunkel gets fancy on this layup vs. Cleveland State (0:19)

Adam Kunkel gets fancy on this layup vs. Cleveland State (0:19)

Travis Steele is out as the men's basketball coach at Xavier, the school announced Wednesday.

The decision came following multiple meetings between Steele and the administration on Wednesday, sources said. The Musketeers beat Cleveland State in the NIT on Tuesday night, but speculation began to grow Wednesday morning that Steele could be let go before their next game in the tournament. The sides agreed Wednesday afternoon to end Steele's tenure.

Assistant Jonas Hayes will serve as interim coach when Xavier takes on Florida winner in the second round of the NIT on Sunday.

"I want to thank Travis and his staff for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Xavier Basketball program," athletic director Greg Christopher said. "Travis led the team with the utmost character and in a first-class manner. He navigated us through a difficult time with Covid and always focused on what was best for our student-athletes. I have tremendous respect for Travis, and he's been a part of Xavier Basketball for more than a decade, playing an important role in some of the program's greatest accomplishments. We collectively appreciate all that Travis has given to Xavier and wish him the best moving forward."

Steele, 40, has been at Xavier in different capacities since 2009. He was an assistant coach under Sean Miller for one season, before spending the next eight seasons as an assistant under Chris Mack. When Mack left for Louisville, Steele was promoted to the top spot.

In four seasons as head coach, Steele was 70-50, but he didn't make an NCAA tournament appearance. Before Steele took over, the program had reached the NCAA tournament in 16 of the previous 18 campaigns. Xavier seemed like a certain bet to make it this year, sitting at 16-5 in early February. But the Musketeers lost eight of their final 10 games to end the season, including an overtime loss to Butler in the Big East tournament.

It was the second season in a row Xavier faltered after a promising start. In 2020-21, the Musketeers were 11-2 at the end of January, before losing six of their final eight games and missing the NCAA tournament. They also lost five of their final eight games in 2020 and likely would've missed the national tourney had it not been canceled.

"I appreciate the opportunity to lead Xavier Men's Basketball the past four years," Steele said. "I am excited for the next chapter in my life, and I wish Xavier nothing but success."

A potential replacement consistently mentioned by industry sources will be familiar to Xavier fans: former head coach Miller, who went to four NCAA tournaments in five seasons -- including an Elite Eight run in 2008 -- during his time with the Musketeers. Miller was fired by Arizona last spring and faces potential NCAA punishment stemming from the 2017 FBI investigation into college basketball, but he has yet to be directly sanctioned and is currently available.

Mack and fellow former Xavier head coach Thad Matta also are available, as is Cleveland State's Dennis Gates, who was on the losing side of Wednesday's NIT game.