UT Martin Director of Athletics Julio Freire announced during a teleconference that he has relieved Jason James of his heading coaching duties Monday morning.
“I felt that I needed to recommend to Chancellor Rakes that we move in a new direction. It is my responsibility to provide our student-athletes with the best opportunities to reach their fullest potential academically, athletically and socially.”
Freire met with James Saturday night and told him of the decision and allowed James to tell his players over the phone. After their loss to Austin Peay, Freire met with the team in the locker room and said players supported James.
The announcement ends nearly a week of speculation about whether James would be allowed to finish out the final year of this contract as the press conference was announced following the Skyhawks’ loss to Southeast Missouri on Feb. 22. This is Freire’s first major announcement as AD at UT Martin having taken the job to become the 12th athletic director in program history just 49 days ago.
James has been a part of the Skyhawks program for the past 12 seasons with the last five as head coach. UTM made it to the OVC Tournament twice in those five years but didn’t have a winning conference record in either stint. Under James the Skyhawks hit a low point going 0-16 in the 11-12 season. UT Martin was 37-117 during James’ five years as head coach.
This past season the Skyhawks were predicted to take a next step and build upon the successes from last season after losing one player from the team. It didn’t go as planned as UTM finished last in the OVC at 8-23 (3-13).
James’ final year of his contract will be financially honored.
UTM begins immediately the process of finding its ninth head coach in school history and won’t speak about the opening until a candidate is chosen.