Basketball Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas was fired on Friday by Florida International University, after his teams went 26-65 in his three seasons as head coach.
Thomas told ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz he was stunned by the firing.
“This is the most surprising thing that has happened to me in basketball,” Thomas said. “I never been fired before for basketball reasons. This is the first time.
“When I was in Toronto, I was trying to buy a team and I left. When I was in Indiana, Larry Bird told me that he liked what I was doing but he was closer to Rick Carlisle. The whole thing in New York was crazy. This is the first time someone told me that I was being fired for basketball reasons.”
Thomas said he was conducting individual workouts on Friday before he was summoned to Garcia’s office.
He said he also had recruits coming in this weekend and an assistant coaching candidate for a job.
Thomas said Garcia wouldn’t get into specifics about why he was being fired. Thomas said the meeting took place at 12:30 p.m. CST. Thomas said he has two years left on his contract and a buyout wasn’t discussed. He said he was so stunned he didn’t ask.
Thomas said he told Garcia he should have at least been given five years to see a recruiting class through. Thomas said he was recruiting exceptionally well in Florida and in Chicago and Indiana and was close to turning the corner at FIU.
“We have a solid group of freshmen and sophomores,” Thomas said. “They fired the whole staff. There is no one left. I feel bad for the kids. They are asking questions about what they should do. I’m trying to help but there is no one left here from our staff. I’m just stunned.”
FIU announced the decision earlier Friday in a simple three-line statement.
“We want to thank Isiah Thomas for his three years here at FIU,” Garcia said. “However, we have decided to take the program in a different direction.”
Information from Espn.com contributed to this report.