BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Samford has fired longtime men's basketball coach Jimmy Tillette.

Athletic director Martin Newton announced the decision Tuesday, saying Tillette "has been a beacon for our university and for this athletic department for a number of years, but we ultimately feel that it is in the program's best interest to go in another direction."

Tillette has been the Bulldogs' coach for 15 seasons and led them to the NCAA tournament in 1999 and 2000. Samford fell to 11-19 last season, the sixth consecutive when the Bulldogs failed to post a winning record.

Tillette went 229-219, making him the winningest coach in program history and the only one to lead Samford to back-to-back 20-win seasons.

Samford said it will begin a national search for a new coach immediately.