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ACC-bound SMU fires coach Rob Lanier after 2 seasons

FILE - SMU head coach Rob Lanier yells from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Memphis in Dallas, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. SMU fired Lanier after two seasons as coach on Thursday, March 21, 2024. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

DALLAS (AP) — SMU fired Rob Lanier after two seasons as its coach on Thursday, a day after the Mustangs ended their final season before moving into the basketball-rich Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Mustangs (20-13) lost 101-92 at Indiana State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night. They were 30-35 overall in their two seasons under Lanier, including a 16-20 record in American Athletic Conference games.

“Our focus now turns to finding a new leader as we prepare for the next era of SMU athletics in the ACC,” said Rick Hart, the school's athletic director.

With SMU, Cal and Stanford all moving to the ACC next season, the league will have 18 basketball teams.

The Mustangs haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2017. That was only their third appearance since their last tourney win in 1988.

“The investments we have made in support of SMU basketball, combined with membership in the country’s preeminent college basketball conference, the value of an SMU degree, our location in the heart of Dallas, Texas, our championship-caliber facilities, the NIL opportunities available to our student-athletes and SMU’s commitment to comprehensive excellence position us to compete alongside the nation’s best programs," Hart said.

Hart did thank Lanier and his staff for positive contributions to SMU, and said they operated with integrity and in the best interests of the university and its athletes.

Lanier had been Georgia State's coach for three seasons and was coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2022, which was 20 years after he took Siena to the tournament, when SMU hired him. He replaced Tim Jankovich, who retired after six seasons as the Mustangs head coach, and a coaching career of nearly four decades that included stints as an assistant for Hall of Fame coaches Larry Brown and Bill Self.

Jankovich had been promoted to succeed Brown, who in 2015 took the Mustangs to their first NCAA tourney since 1993.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll