WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest fired men’s basketball coach Dino Gaudio after three seasons.
Athletic director Ron Wellman said at a hastily drawn news conference Wednesday that “the basis for the decision was our late-season and postseason performances.”
Gaudio was a combined 1-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments. He was 61-31 at Wake Forest since he was hired in 2007 to replace Skip Prosser, who died of a heart attack.
Wellman emphasized that the decision “was not a snap judgment.”
Neither Gaudio nor his assistants returned several messages left on their cell phones.
Gaudio was hired in 2007, shortly after coach Skip Prosser died of a heart attack, and went 61-31 while leading the Demon Deacons to consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.
He received a contract extension in October, but pressure has been mounting because of poor performances late in the season. Gaudio was a combined 1-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments, the only victory coming in the first round this year against Texas, when Ishmael Smith hit a last-second jumper in overtime.
Wake Forest lost to Kentucky in the second round and finished the season 20-11.
Two seasons ago, Wake Forest opened 16-0 and was briefly ranked No. 1, before finishing 24-7 and being upset by No. 13 seed Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“We started off 16-0, No. 1 in the country, then lay an egg in the NCAA tournament — it tore us to pieces when we knew we weren’t going to finish our dream,” guard L.D. Williams said before the season. “All season long, coach Gaudio talked about ‘Final Four, Final Four, Final Four,’ and we don’t even make the final 32. It kills us every day.”
Part of the problem for Gaudio has been players leaving early for the NBA. Jeff Teague and James Johnson both left early last season, and leading scorer Al-Farouq Aminu declared for the draft last week with two years of eligibility remaining.
The Demon Deacons also lose Smith, their second-leading scorer, and 7-foot center Chas McFarland and guard L.D. Williams to graduation.