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Buffalo fires head coach Jim Whitesell

NCAA Basketball: Buffalo at Connecticut

Nov 15, 2022; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Buffalo Bulls head coach Jim Whitesell talks to guard Devin Ceaser (10) from the sideline as they take on the Connecticut Huskies in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Whitesell is out as the University at Buffalo head coach after his first losing season in four years on the job, the school announced.

“We felt it was necessary to make a change in leadership of our men’s basketball program,” athletic director Mark Alnutt said in a statement.

Whitesell was under contract through the 2024-25 season and is due to receive a $500,000 buyout under terms of his deal for being fired before April 5.

The move comes two days after the sixth-seeded Bulls (15-17) were routed 101-77 by third-seeded Akron in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. It marked the Bulls’ third quarterfinal loss under Whitesell.

He finished with a 70-59 record at Buffalo and led the team to one postseason appearance, a 2021 NIT berth, which ended with a first-round loss to Colorado State.

The lack of postseason success coupled with a drop-off in recruiting were considered disappointments for a school that had established itself as a MAC power. It made a combined four NCAA Tournament appearances - including the program’s first - from 2014 to 2019 under Bobby Hurley and Nate Oats.

Whitesell came to Buffalo as an assistant on Oats’ staff and was promoted when Oats left to coach at Alabama.