Rhode Island fires coach Jim Baron

Rhode Island has yet to make the NCAA tournament since Jim Baron became coach in 2001. Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The University of Rhode Island Rams fired men's basketball coach Jim Baron on Sunday with two years remaining on his contract.

The Rams finished the regular season 7-24, including a disappointing 4-12 record in the Atlantic 10.

Baron, 57, arrived at URI in 2001. He made five NIT appearances and won 20 or more games six times but never reached the NCAA tournament.

Athletic director Thorr Bjorn said on the university's website Sunday that a nationwide search for a successor would begin immediately. He did not say why Baron was released from his contract.

"I would like to thank Jim Baron for his 11 years of committed service to the University of Rhode Island," Bjorn said in a statement. "During his tenure at URI, Jim represented himself, his family and our men's basketball program with the utmost class and professionalism."

Bjorn said no details about the search will be made until a new coach has been appointed.

Baron came to Rhode Island from his alma mater, St. Bonaventure, where he coached for nine seasons and earned an NCAA berth in 2000. Prior to St. Bonaventure, Baron coached at St. Francis (Pa.) for five seasons, including one NCAA tournament appearance.

"I am comfortable with everything I was able to give to the program and to coach some fine young men," Baron said in the release announcing his dismissal.

The school said it will pay the rest of Baron's contract from "externally generated" revenue. The university did not elaborate.

State money will not be used to cover the obligation and student tuition and fees will not be affected, the university said.

Baron's son Billy had transferred from Virginia to play for his father during the 2011-12 season after his brother Jimmy did the same two years prior.

Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.