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Phil Martelli on St. Joseph’s firing: ‘I strove to be a partner’ for all school stood for

Martelli issued his own statement one day after being fired by St. Joe's.

Phil Martelli's last game was an Atlantic 10 Tournament loss to Davidson.
Phil Martelli's last game was an Atlantic 10 Tournament loss to Davidson.Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

Phil Martelli said he was “honored” by the role he played at St. Joseph’s as head coach for the past 24 years in a statement released Wednesday.

Martelli, who was fired on Tuesday, called it “good fortune to have wonderful partners" like players and their families, assistant coaches, other staffers and fans who followed his teams since he took over in 1995.

He also said he was excited “through the pain and numbness.”

“I am fired up. I need to be on a sideline and working with hungry student athletes who want to be challenged.”

Read the full statement here:

For 34 years, I, with my family, was honored to play a significant role at St. Joseph’s University. Every day, in every way, I strove to be a partner and representative for all that St. Joseph’s stood for. It was my good fortune to have wonderful partners as we aspired to chase greatness on and off the court - the players and their families who gave me their trust; the assistant coaches who exhausted themselves daily; the support staff who pounded away behind the scenes; and the fans and followers who cheered, debated, and loved the Hawks. I saw all as valuable partners. My hope is that I was viewed the same. For the student athletes - the players - I created an atmosphere and environment in which success could be pursued - academically, socially, and obviously athletically. “Act Like a Champion” was the mantra.
I understand that college basketball is about winning and losing. All good things come to an end and SJU has the right to select who coaches their team.
SJU is part of the fabric of my DNA, and I am part of the fabric of this fine institution. Together we celebrated many great victories. None bigger than 33 graduation days. SJU gave me and my family the time to build relationships for life, create memories, and bring joy and happiness to thousands and thousands and thousands of people. The ending is not what I imagined, and I recognize that the last 3 years have been a challenge. But challenge are part of life, and we must move forward.
Through the pain and numbness, I am excited. I am fired up. I need to be on a sideline and working with hungry student athletes who want to be challenged to put smiles on people's faces and joy in their hearts - the challenge of becoming champions.
SJU will always be part of me. I will not be left with a scar. I will choose to have only great memories. Representative Elijah Cummings so perfectly stated, "Don't ask the question, 'Why is this happening to me?' but ask the question, 'Why is this happening for me?'"
I would like to extend a sincere thanks to all who have supported me and been part of my life for the past 34 years."

Martelli told the Inquirer’s Mike Jensen that he was given a choice to announce he was resigning or retiring and he declined.

“It would not have been honorable — and it didn’t take me long to answer the question,” he said.

He also said he’s still interested in coaching, and that he doesn’t plan on letting the firing “scar” him. Read more here.

» READ MORE: Phil Martelli has been fired from St. Joe’s, but his legacy will never die