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Isiah Thomas can be disappointed, but he can’t be surprised he was fired


FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2011 photo, FIU basketball coach Isiah Thomas speaks during the South Florida All Star Classic basketball game in Miami. Florida International has fired men’s basketball coach Isiah Thomas, after the Hall of Fame player went 26-65 in three seasons. Thomas took over at FIU in a surprising move in 2009, one that gave the former New York Knicks coach and president a chance to restore the reputation he tarnished through a series of embarrassments in New York. Under Thomas, FIU never won more than 11 games in a season. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)


Isiah Thomas went 26-65 in three years at the helm of Florida International.

He did it while pining for his old gig with the New York Knicks and possibly even contributing to the organization in an advisory role.

And he’s surprised that he got fired?

“I am deeply disappointed that I wasn’t given the time to finish the job of building FIU into one of the nation’s top basketball programs,” Thomas said in a statement released to The Associated Press. “The foundation for success had been laid and we were looking forward to having our breakout year, with another strong recruiting class.”

Building a basketball program is not an easy thing to do. It’s even more difficult when your full attention isn’t on the job at hand. I have no idea how much interest Thomas actually had in a consulting gig with the New York Knicks, but from the outside it looked like a lot. And that’s not a good look for a college head coach.

I will say this: Thomas did get some good things done off the court while at FIU. From the AP report:

17 of a possible 19 players will have graduated by the end of this academic year, his helping organize a charity game with NBA players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during the lockout that raised $100,000 for scholarships for future FIU students and that the school started a collaboration with the University of California “to educate our athletes about the importance of academics.”

His players seemed to truly care about him as well, as they were quite disappointed with the decision made by the administration.

But the bottom line?

Thomas was losing, and from a public perspective, he appeared far too concerned with fixing the Knicks’ problems and not concerned enough with turning FIU around. Fair or not, that will get you let go.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.