MUNCIE, Ind. -- Ball State has fired coach Billy Taylor less than 24 hours after losing to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference tournament.

There had been speculation all season that Taylor was on his way out, but when the Cardinals won five straight and seven of eight to advance to Cleveland in the tourney, some thought Taylor may have saved his job.

The Cardinals were 15-15, including 8-8 in conference play. Taylor went 84-99 in six seasons.

Athletic director Bill Scholl called it a ''difficult decision'' and said a search would begin immediately.

Taylor was hired in 2007 to clean up a program coming off of a school-record 22-loss season, awaiting an NCAA ruling and had been tainted by the former coach's accusations that racially-charged letters had been left underneath his office door.