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Jim Whitesell fired at Buffalo after four seasons

Whitesell, who was tasked with maintaining Buffalo’s elite momentum, has been pushed aside after disappointing tenure.

NCAA Basketball: MAC Conference Tournament - Ohio vs Buffalo Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Whitesell, who replaced Nate Oats in 2019 after his departure for Alabama, has been let go by the University at Buffalo after a four-year tenure as head men’s basketball coach. The news was first reported on Saturday morning by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein via Twitter, with a supporting report by WIVB-TV’s Aiden Joly within an half-hour.

The university later confirmed the news with a statement via Twitter.

Whitesell will finish his Buffalo tenure with a 70-49 overall record, including a 45-27 conference record. The 2022 season was the worst in that span, with Buffalo finishing below .500 overall at 15-17, with a 9-9 MAC record.

“At this time, we felt it was necessary to make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program,” UB athletic director Mark Alnutt said via press release. “We want to thank Jim for his eight years at UB, including the last four as our head coach. We wish he and Connie nothing but the very best moving forward.”

Whitesell took over the Buffalo program at a very important time; the Bulls ran ruckshod over the MAC over the prior two seasons, with two division titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the Round of 32 as a double-digit seed in both seasons. Whitesell’s job was to maintain that momentum and keep Buffalo relevant in the MAC.

The process behind the hiring was sound; Whitesell had been an associate head coach at Buffalo from 2015-2019 prior to his promotion, and brought with him decades of experience as a head coach at various levels of college basketball.

Results did not follow for Whitesell, as a combination of new staff and departing talents resulted in a third-place finish in the division. The 2020 season was a slight rebound, with Buffalo finishing 16-9 (12-5 MAC) and receiving an invitation to the National Invitational Tournament. That’s as high as the ceiling would get for the Bulls under Whitesell, with fifth and sixth place finishes in the conference after the scrapping of divisions in 2020.

As of publication, there is no official statement on the University at Buffalo athletics website. Hustle Belt is working on the assumption that the Twitter statement will be the final comment regarding the move.

A national coaching search has begun effectively immediately, per Alnutt.