The Dave Pilipovich era of basketball at the U.S. Air Force Academy has ended.
Falcons’ athletic director Nathan Pine released a statement Monday, announcing the academy had fired Pilipovich after more than eight seasons on the job.
Pilipovich, 56, guided Air Force to an overall record of 12-20 and 5-13 in the Mountain West this season. He leaves Air Force with an overall record of 110-151.
“We did it right,” Pilipovich told Brent Briggeman of the Colorado Springs Gazette. “Never had an investigation of our program or anything like that. We had great young men. We did it right, just didn’t win enough games, I guess.”
Indeed. After Pilipovich coached Air Force to an 18-14 record in 2012-13 and made the CIT — his first full season on the job — the Falcons have since had seven straight losing seasons. Air Force never finished better than sixth in the Mountain West Conference table under Pilipovich.
In his statement, Pine initially praised Pilipovich, calling him a “tremendous ambassador,” a “professional” and a “gentleman.” And then Pine said, “The bottom line is we have to be more competitive on the court.”
Pine continued: “We entered this season with a senior-laden and talented team with high expectations, unfortunately we did not meet our goals as a program this year. It’s clear to me that a change in leadership is necessary at this time for us to move the program forward.”
Pilipovich came to Air Force as an assistant in 2007 and coached under Jeff Reynolds for nearly five seasons. When Reynolds was fired before the end of the 2011-12 season, Pilipovich took over, becoming a head coach for the first time in his career.
It wasn’t all bad at Air Force. The team did notch wins over three ranked opponents under Pilipovich and they won four Mountain West Conference tournament games.
Before Air Force, the native of Duquesne, Pennsylvania was an assistant coach at Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Robert Morris, Georgia State, FAU and Division II California (PA).
Air Force has not made the NCAA tournament since 2006 and hasn’t appeared in the NIT since 2007, a season in which it made the semifinals of the second-tier tournament.
According to the Gazette, Pilipovich’s assistant coaches will remain in their positions and under contract through June. They will have an opportunity to interview with the new head coach.
Air Force parting ways with Pilipovich comes on the same day that fellow MWC team Wyoming fired its head coach, Allen Edwards.
The Falcons will begin a national search for a new head coach immediately, Pine said.