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UA’s Gottfried resigns as basketball coach

Mark Gottfried resigned Monday as Alabama’s basketball coach, stepping down in the middle of his 11th season amid criticism of both the team’s play and the departure of a star player.

The school said Gottfried’s departure was immediate. He will be replaced by assistant coach Philip Pearson.

Gottfried, who played at Alabama, said he quit during a meeting with athletic director Mal Moore.

“It has been a wonderful decade for me and my family, and I love the University of Alabama, but I feel that it is in the best interests of everyone involved,” Gottfried said in a statement released by the university.

The Crimson Tide’s record this year is 12-7, 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference.

Gottfried’s teams have missed the NCAA tournament the last two years, and the coach was criticized over the recent departure of point guard Ronald Steele, a preseason first-team AP All-American pick two years ago who later suffered injuries. The school blamed Steele’s departure on a recent injury, but Steele said there was more to his decision than that.

Moore said the school would being trying to find a new coach immediately.

“Out of respect for our players and coaches, I will not comment on the progress of our search until it has concluded,” Moore said in a statement.

Alabama’s next game is at Arkansas on Thursday.

Gottfried, 45, took over at Alabama in 1988, replacing David Hobbs. He began a streak of five straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 2002, reaching the round of eight in 2004.

Gottfried signed a six-year contract with Alabama in 2005 that made him Alabama’s first $1 million basketball coach. The contract ran through 2011 and included a buyout if he were fired, but any financial terms tied to his resignation were not released.

Including three seasons at Murray State, Gottfried has a career record of 278-155 for a winning percentage of .642 in 14 seasons.

As a player at Alabama during 1985-1987, Gottfried started 98 straight games, was known for his three-point shooting and the Tide made the round of 16 all three seasons.