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Duquesne fires Ferry as head basketball coach

Jerry DiPaola
| Monday, March 13, 2017, 3:39 p.m.
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry shouts from the bench when Duquesne faced St. Louis defenders in the first round of A-10 Men’s basketball tournament at PPG Paint Arena, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry shouts from the bench when Duquesne faced St. Louis defenders in the first round of A-10 Men’s basketball tournament at PPG Paint Arena, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry gestures during the first half against Robert Morris on Tuesday Dec. 6, 2016, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry gestures during the first half against Robert Morris on Tuesday Dec. 6, 2016, at PPG Paints Arena.

Jim Ferry paid the ultimate price for a losing record Monday when Duquesne fired him as men's basketball coach.

Ferry completed his fifth season at Duquesne last week with a 60-97 record, 10-22 this season when the Dukes finished last in the Atlantic 10.

Duquesne hired Ferry in 2012 after he led LIU Brooklyn to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011 and '12. He replaced Ron Everhart, the only Duquesne coach with a winning record (99-89) in the past 35 years.

“In consultation with President Ken Gormley, we have decided to make a change in leadership for the men's basketball program at Duquesne University,” athletic director Dave Harper said in a statement. “I would like to thank Jim Ferry for his efforts and work the last five years. Jim is a great person, and we wish him the best with his future endeavors.”

Under Ferry, Duquesne was 21-65 in Atlantic 10 regular-season games (3-15 this season). The Dukes, who were A-10 tournament hosts this year at PPG Paints Arena, lost to Saint Louis, 72-71, in the first round Wednesday after leading by 18 points in the second half.

That was the Ferry's fourth loss against only one victory in four tournament appearances. His best season was 2015-16 when he led Duquesne to a 17-17 record, including a victory in the postseason College Basketball Invitational.

This season, Duquesne lost 12 games by seven points or fewer, with two freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup for much of the season. Minutes after the loss to Saint Louis, Ferry expressed optimism for the future.

“We know what (recruits) we have coming in next year,” he said. “These guys (on the current team) are getting older. This isn't going to happen again. We can get right back to the middle of the pack in this league.”

Duquesne guard Mike Lewis II, who joined teammate Isiaha Mike on the A-10 All-Rookie team, said last week Ferry is the reason he matriculated to Duquesne from his native St. Louis.

“(Ferry's return) is very important because he's the guy that recruited us,” Lewis told the Tribune-Review last week. “For me, especially, he's the big reason why I came here.”

Duquesne's best victory this season was a 64-55 decision against Pitt on Dec. 2 at PPG Paints Arena in the annual City Game.

But even that was a bad omen for Ferry.

The past five times the Dukes have defeated Pitt, Duquesne's coach was fired at the end of the season. That dates to 1982 and covers the tenures of Mike Rice Sr., Jim Satalin, Scott Edgar and Darrelle Porter.

Gormley said Harper will lead the search for a new coach, with the assistance of the Plano, Texas, firm Eastman & Beaudine. Harper said a national search started Monday.

“I thank Jim Ferry for his service to Duquesne University. It has been an honor having a chance to work with him.” Gormley said in a statement.

Harper said men's basketball, which hasn't played in the NCAA Tournament since 1977, remains important to the Duquesne community.

“Duquesne's goal is to be a highly valued member of the Atlantic 10 Conference,” he said. “Success in men's basketball is paramount to that strategy.”

Harper and Gormley said they will have no further comment. Ferry did not return a call seeking comment.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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