Thomas, who went 26-65 in three seasons at Miami-based FIU, won’t return because the school has “decided to take the program in a different direction,” Pete Garcia, FIU’s executive director of sports and entertainment, said yesterday in an e- mailed statement.
The Panthers went 7-25 in their first season with Thomas as coach, followed by an 11-19 campaign in 2010-11.
“This is the most surprising thing that has happened to me in basketball,” Thomas told ESPN. “I’m just stunned.”
Thomas, 50, a National Basketball Association Hall of Famer, was fired as president and coach of the New York Knicks in 2008.
In August 2010 he was re-hired as a consultant to the Knicks before saying a week later that he wouldn’t take the job amid questions about whether his appointment would violate NBA rules because he was still a college coach.
New York never had a winning season in the four years Thomas was in control of the team, including the final two in which he was also its coach. He was relieved of his duties as team president in April 2008 and fired as coach later that month after the team went 23-59 to tie a franchise mark for losses in a season.
Thomas, a point guard, played 13 years for the Detroit Pistons, averaging 19.2 points and 9.3 assists for his career. A 12-time All-Star, his 9,061 career assists are the seventh most in NBA history.
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