Tyrone Morris, who only nine months ago led Girard College to its first PIAA Class A state boys' basketball championship, has been dismissed as the Cavaliers' head coach just two games into the 2009-10 season.
Sabrina Allen, Girard College athletic director, said Morris "resigned" in a meeting yesterday. Morris said he was "fired."
"I was asked to resign, and I didn't want to resign," Morris, 32, said Thursday. "Now, I'm no longer the coach. I take that as being fired."
Said Allen: "He has resigned. He won't be coaching any more. I'm not going to say any more than that. I'd rather have the business of Girard College stay inside the walls of our building than be out in the newspaper."
According to Morris, who had just started his sixth season as head coach, his firing was prompted by an incident that occurred at a tip-off tournament in which Girard Colege particiapted last weekend at Pocono Mountain East in Swiftwater, Pa.
In Saturday night's final, when the Cavaliers bowed to host Pocono Mountain East in the final of the Cap Werkheiser Memorial Tournament, Morris said he became "animated" over a non-call on senior guard Torrell Candelaria's last-second drive to the basket. Candelaria missed the shot, Girard College was forced to foul, and the Cardinals triumphed, 64-61.
"In my opinion, (Candelaria) got hammered, and that had been happening all game," Morris said. "After the game, the referee stopped, kept looking at me, some of my kids were grabbing me, and I went about halfway onto the court. But I was within myself. I didn't go after him, need security or anything like that."
Morris, a 1995 graduate of Girard College, said he was not assessed a technical foul or ejected.
"I'm a bit animated, no doubt about that," he said. "But I haven't had a technical foul in three or four years. Maybe the school's image is more important than developing the kids."
Morris, who is not a teacher at Girard College, said word of his flare-up at Pocono Mountain East reached Allen and led to yesterday's one-on-one meeting. "She obviously had spoken with others at Girard," he said.
Allen refused to elaborate on the meeting or Morris' dismissal. "There's nothing else to say," she said.
With the Cavaliers, Morris compiled a 98-47 overall record and won three consecutive District 1 Class A titles. Last season, Girard College went 26-4 and won the state crown topping District 10's Kennedy Catholic, 80-70, in the title game at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.
For now, Allen said, Girard College's assistants - varsity coaches Nasser Eggleston and Jonathan Steward, and jayvee coaches Paul Kennedy and Jabali Peak - will collectively run the team.
Allen also said that star junior guard and Pittsburgh recruit John Johnson, who did not play in last weekend's tournament because of a school-related issue, would be back for tonight's nonleague matchup against Roman Catholic (7 p.m. at Holy Family University).
"He wasn't doing what he had to do in the classroom, but he's fine now," Morris said.