Delaware State has fired men's basketball Coach Joe Dean Davidson, who had coached 10 years at Dunbar High School in the District before taking the Delaware State job in 1983.
The Board of Trustees voted last Thursday not to renew the contracts of Davidson and the women's basketball coach, Stanley Morgan, a long-time amateur coach in Prince George's County.
"All I can say now is that there's some kind of misunderstanding of the direction that we're going in," Davidson said. "We had the toughest schedule in the history of the school, we had 17 road games and we still finished with one of the best records in the last six years."
After a 12-17 record in 1983-84, the men's team was picked to finish near the top of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They had two returning starters and excellent inside players in Dominic Snowden (Mackin High School) and sophomore Bernard Campbell, who Davidson brought to Delaware State from Dunbar.
Delaware State finished 12-16, losing to Howard in the semifinals of the MEAC tournament.
Delaware State officials would not comment on the decision but Athletic Director Nelson Townsend said, "I would say that it is certainly not a decision exclusively based on performance in terms of the won-lost record. Joe Dean has done as well as our program has done historically. I would imagine it was something else."
It is believed that Davidson is appealing the decision. All employes of Delaware State are under a one-year contract and the school's bylaws allow anyone whose contract is not renewed to file an appeal to be reinstated.
"No player from either team has talked with me about being unhappy," Townsend said. "I just think that the early expectations were higher than were realistic. No one likes to see this happen and it doesn't happen very often."
McDowell was named coach of the year in the MEAC after his 1983-84 team went 18-10, but this season the Hornets slumped to 7-18.
Davdison said that while there is much work yet to be done, he is doing his part. "I think that they (the Board) have to take an in-depth look at the program," he said. "And they would see that I'm working as hard as I can and developing a good team."
In 10 years at Dunbar, Davidson was 224-40. Should the board deny the appeal, he said, "This would be my last stop for coaching as far as I'm concerned."