Ann Arbor, Mich. Tommy Amaker maintained it was fair to expect Michigan to earn an NCAA Tournament bid in his sixth season leading the basketball program.
When the Wolverines fell short of that goal, athletic director Bill Martin decided it was time for a change.
"Letting Tommy go was the toughest decision I've had to make in seven years as athletic director," Martin told The Associated Press on Saturday. "He took over a program that needed help, and he helped it in a lot of ways.
"But at Michigan, we have a tradition of winning Big Ten and national championships, and we haven't been close to doing either in a lot of ways."
Amaker said he was disappointed but not surprised when Martin broke the news to him during a meeting.
"Nobody wants to be told your time is up, or that you're no longer wanted," Amaker said during a news conference. "I wouldn't say 'shocked.' I was hopeful we would get a chance to continue, but that's not the case, and I understand and respect the decisions that are made at Michigan."
Before this season started, Amaker said it wasn't unreasonable to look for the Wolverines to reach the NCAA Tournament.
The Wolverines ended up playing in the NIT for the third time in four years.
Michigan's season ended Thursday night with an 87-66 loss at Florida State in the second-tier tournament, finishing 22-13.
"There were moments of delight and success," Martin said. "But we didn't make the NCAA Tournament, and that was the goal. To that extent, it was a disappointment."
Amaker's career record at Michigan was 109-83 overall with three 20-win seasons, but just 43-53 in the Big Ten.
"Am I disappointed and hurt? Of course," he said. "I'm not going to sit up here and say I'm happy. But angry? Bitter? I don't subscribe to those things.
"When you put your heart and soul and everything you have into something, you are disappointed because you want to see it through. But I understand how this business works."
Amaker was under contract through the 2010-11 season, but the school could fire him without cause by giving him $900,000, according to his contract that was obtained last week by the AP in a Freedom of Information Act request.
He had to be employed as Michigan's coach on March 31, 2011, to earn a deferred-compensation package after the school's annual contributions of $100,000. By firing him, the school keeps the invested money, according to the contract.