NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Colorado

Xavier men's basketball coach Travis Steele will not return as the program's coach next season, the program said Wednesday in a statement announcing the parties "mutually agreed to part ways." Steele was nearing the end of his fourth season at the helm of the Musketeers program.

The timing of the firing comes after Xavier missed out the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season, while its postseason remains alive after taking down Cleveland State on Tuesday in the first round of the NIT. Assistant Jonas Hayes will serve as Xavier's interim coach for the remainder of the NIT. A national search for the next coach, meanwhile, is expected to begin immediately.

"I want to thank Travis and his staff for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Xavier Basketball program," Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher said in a press release. "Travis led the team with the utmost character and in a first-class manner. He navigated us through a difficult time with Covid and always focused on what was best for our student-athletes. I have tremendous respect for Travis, and he's been a part of Xavier Basketball for more than a decade, playing an important role in some of the program's greatest accomplishments. We collectively appreciate all that Travis has given to Xavier and wish him the best moving forward."  

Steele in four seasons was unable to lead Xavier to an NCAA Tournament berth (though the program may have snuck in to the Big Dance in the year it was canceled because of the pandemic.) He finishes with a 70-50 record in that span, but only once -- in his first year -- did he finish in the top half of the Big East standings. 

A late-season collapse for Xavier did not help Steele's case to be retained for a fifth season after it lost seven of its final nine regular season games, dropping from a potential NCAA Tournament team to a No. 2 seed in the NIT. After making the NCAA Tournament in eight of nine seasons under Steele's predecessor, Chris Mack, a fifth season may have been a hard sell for the administration especially after struggles to close the regular season.

Xavier's postseason run will continue this weekend in the second round of the NIT where it will face the winner between Florida and Rick Pitino's Iona Gaels.