Saint Joseph's fires Martelli after 34-year run

Saint Joseph's has parted ways with head coach Phil Martelli after 34 years at the university, it was announced on Tuesday.

Martelli, 64, had been the head coach of the Hawks since 1995 and was an assistant coach for the previous 10 seasons.

"Today, Saint Joseph's announced its decision to make a leadership change in its men's basketball program," the school's release stated. "The University will immediately begin a search for a new head coach, with the goal of filling the position in the coming weeks.

"Coach Phil Martelli stands out among his peers in college basketball not only for his long tenure and the many accolades that he and his teams have achieved, but also for his engagement with the community and his service as an ambassador for SJU. The University recognizes and celebrates the history and heart that Coach Martelli brought to the program and thanks him for his long service, dedication and stewardship."

Saint Joseph's athletic director Jill Bodensteiner told The Associated Press that while it was "excruciating" to part ways with Martelli, she "didn't feel like we were giving the student-athletes an optimal chance to succeed."

"I did an analysis of this year, primarily, and decided we weren't helping those student-athletes maximize their potential, individually or as a team," she told the AP.

Bodensteiner also told the AP that she would let Martelli address whether he had a chance to retire on his own terms, but Martelli told the media outlet that he was spending the day with his family and declined further comment.

In the interview, the AD said she is looking to move quickly to replace Martelli and hire a coach who can "build a culture."

During Martelli's time at the helm in Philadelphia, the Hawks made seven NCAA tournament appearances and six NIT appearances. They had a historic season in 2004, winning their first 27 games en route to the Elite Eight behind the star backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. Martelli earned National Coach of the Year honors that season. Saint Joe's won four Atlantic 10 regular-season championships during Martelli's tenure.

The Hawks had struggled the past three seasons, failing to finish above .500 overall. This season, they went 14-19 overall and 6-12 in the Atlantic 10.

In Martelli's 24 seasons as head coach, he went 444-328.

"As basketball is an important strategic asset for Saint Joseph's, the University will move forward with the intent to build upon its storied history, develop a sustained culture of excellence, and consistently compete for NCAA Tournament appearances and conference championships," the school said.