Cornell did not renew basketball head coach Bill Courtney’s contract, the athletic department announced on Monday.
Courtney coached the Red for six years, finishing with 60 wins and 113 losses including a 27-57 in-conference record. Most recently, Cornell finished with a 10-18 record this past season, with an Ivy League mark of 3-11, last in the conference.
“I appreciate Coach Courtney’s diligent efforts and his dedication to our student-athletes over the past six years,” athletic director Andy Noel said in a statement. “He is a first-class individual and I wish him success in his future endeavors.”
After former head coach Steve Donahue departed the Red following three straight Ivy League titles including the 2009-10 famed run to the Sweet Sixteen, Cornell brought in Courtney, known for his up-tempo style defensively and offensively. Courtney previously served as an assistant at a number of schools, including George Mason, Providence, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
“It’s very disappointing to me and my family,” Courtney said. “But at the same time I’m very thankful that Andy Noel gave me the opportunity to be the head coach at such an incredible institution. I will always be thankful for that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way any of us would have wanted it to.”
Courtney’s teams at Cornell struggled to perform at the same level as Donahue’s before him. The team finished fifth in Courtney’s first two years, including a 7-7 Ivy record in 2011-12 which would prove to be his best finish in the league in his career. After finishing sixth in 2012-13, Courtney and the Red struggled through injuries in the next year, sputtering to a 2-26 overall record.
A year ago, the Red placed fifth in the league with a record of 13-17. This season, Cornell tied for seventh place in the conference.
“I’ve been coaching for 20 years and whenever you’re not doing well, you’re always worrying about [being fired],” Courtney said, “You never know for sure what’s going to happen, but you always have a little bit of concern you may be in trouble. But until it happens, you never expect it.”
The move follows the announcement of former Cornell basketball freshman Xaiver Eaglin’s arrest for rape. Courtney denied that the ongoing trial played a role in the decision. Cornell Sports Information Director Jeremy Hartigan confirmed that the arrest wasn’t a factor.
“It’s all basketball, it doesn’t have to do anything with Xavier,” Courtney said.
Individual players garnered awards under Courtney. Most recently, freshman guard Matt Morgan was placed on the all-Ivy second team. One of Courtney’s top recruits, Shonn Miller ’15 earned two first team all-Ivy selections and Rookie of the Year. Miller was forced to transfer following his graduation and won a conference title with UConn this past season.
“We turned out a lot of good kids, kids that will do a lot of positive things,” Courtney said. “That’s what we’re in this for.” The Cornell athletic department announced that a national search to find a new coach will begin immediately.