ECU fires basketball coach Joe Dooley

Dooley finished his second tenure with the Pirates with a 44-67 record, including a 16-47 mark in the American Athletic Conference

Joe Dooley addresses the media after being introduced as ECU's basketball coach in 2018 (ECU photo/Rob Goldberg Jr.)

Joe Dooley’s second tenure as East Carolina’s basketball coach didn’t go as well as the first.

Four years after returning to Greenville with the highest winning percentage of any coach in the school’s Division I era, the 56-year-old coach has been relieved of his duties.

Athletic director Jon Gilbert made the announcement on Friday, less than 24 hours after the Pirates were eliminated from the American Athletic Conference Tournament with a 74-63 loss to Cincinnati.

“This evening, I informed Joe Dooley, staff and our student-athletes we are going to move forward with a new leader of our men’s basketball program,” Gilbert said in a statement. “For the last four seasons, Joe has worked tirelessly to improve our basketball program and I thank him for his dedication and commitment since the day he was hired. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Dooley was the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I when he took over the ECU job in April 1995 and won 17 games in each of his first two seasons. He finished with a 57-52 record with a .523 winning percentage before being fired in 1999 in what was considered a questionable move at the time.

Dooley went on to gain a reputation as one of the nation’s best recruiters as an assistant to Bill Self at Kansas, then spent five seasons at Florida Gulf Coast, where he led the Eagles to the postseason each year while compiling a 114-58 record.

He returned to ECU in 2018 with hopes of returning the Pirates to their winning ways. But his best season was the recently completed 2021-22 campaign that ended with a 15-15 record. Overall, he finishes with a 101-119 record at ECU, including a 44-67 mark (16-47 AAC) this time around.

Gilbert did not specify a timetable for hiring Dooley’s successor, but stressed that ECU has the resources to make a competitive offer.

“We are committed to building a winning program and developing young men who are leaders on and off the court,” the Pirates AD said. “Thanks to the generosity of our Pirate Club supporters, we have the facilities and fan base here to attract a top candidate.”