Temple fired head football coach Rod Carey on Monday after three seasons.

Carey, who has three years left on his contract, posted a 12-20 record during his tenure. Temple’s new athletic director Arthur Johnson will be tasked with finding the program’s new coach. Wide receivers coach Thad Ward has been named interim head coach.

“It’s never an easy decision to replace a head coach,” Johnson said in a statement. “The past two seasons have not been easy with the challenges of the pandemic. I want to thank Rod for staying committed to our student-athletes and wish him and his family well in their next chapter.”

Johnson said in a news conference that he intends to hire a search firm to help find a new coach but the timeline for the process is still fluid. He added there has been great interest from potential coaching candidates.

A Philadelphia or Northeast connection is “important, but that cannot be the only thing,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, you still have to be able to lead a football program — that includes the student-athletes and the staff and all the other ancillary things that come with leading a program.”

Johnson met Monday morning with Temple football players to get their feedback and ask what they want to see in a coach, but he did not disclose details of the conversations.

This year was an inflection point for Carey’s career at 10th and Diamond. With a roster almost entirely constructed from players his staff recruited, Temple was expected to outperform its previous losing seasons. The team completed the 2021 season with a 3-9 record and missed a bowl game for the second straight year.

Temple started the season 2-2, but the conference schedule proved to be the sticking point for Carey’s team.

A 34-31 comeback win to upset Memphis on Oct. 2 pushed Temple to 3-2 and felt like a step in the right direction. Then a long list of miscues and injury issues ravaged the Owls’ season. Temple went on a seven-game losing streak to close the year, falling by at least 20 points in each contest.

During that run, Temple’s second all-time leading receiver, Jadan Blue, and starting quarterback, D’Wan Mathis, who transferred in this offseason, left the program a week apart. Both players told Carey and members of the team they intended to enter the transfer portal. Mathis has since returned.

Carey was named coach in January 2019 by then-athletic director Pat Kraft. He succeeded Manny Diaz, who held the position for 18 days before fleeing to Miami’s open coaching job.

Carey, now 50, boasted an impressive resume. He coached Northern Illinois to six bowl games and two Mid-Atlantic Conference championships. He brought a host of familiar faces with him to Temple. Of the 21 members on Carey’s staff, 17 have ties to NIU, with running backs coach Gabe Infante being the only position coach with local roots.

His first season had fans hopeful about the future of the program, as he finished 8-5 and coached Temple to the Military Bowl, the program’s sixth straight bowl game.

Year 2 under Carey was much tougher. Temple was hit by COVID-19 as hard as any program in the country and finished 1-6 in 2020.

» READ MORE: Temple football season ends with another lopsided defeat, 38-14 at home to Navy

The Owls traveled with only 45 scholarship players on Nov. 14, 2020, against Central Florida. They marched out 41 underclassmen on Nov. 21, 2020, against East Carolina. And from start to finish, six players saw snaps at quarterback.

By the last season’s end, 13 players entered the transfer portal, including then-starting quarterback Anthony Russo (Michigan State) and linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley (Boston College).

Temple’s next coach will be the first major hire under Johnson’s leadership. That choice will likely set the foundation for the immediate future of the athletic department.

Temple parts ways with volleyball coach

On the same day of Carey’s firing, Johnson announced Temple would not be renewing volleyball coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam’s contract for the 2022 season. 

“I would like to thank Temple University, the athletic department, and the North Philadelphia community for their support over the last 11 years,” Ganesharatnam said. “I was blessed with meeting great faculty members, administrators, fellow coaches, and most importantly, some amazing student athletes during this journey.”

Ganesharatnam coached 11 seasons compiling an overall record of 173-144. The Owls finished the 2021 season with a 7-24 record.