At an end-of-the year banquet held to honor the Golden Panthers on Monday night, the entire basketball team got up and walked out as a highlight reel of the season was introduced.
“We didn’t want to disrespect the program at all or anything,” Wozniak told Yahoo. “We just wanted to show our support for Isiah Thomas. He was a great coach, a mentor and a father figure to us. He didn’t have a winning record, but you can’t build a program in three years.”
Florida International was 8-21 this season and 26-65 in Thomas’ three years as coach. His firing came as a surprise not only to Thomas, who said he had no hint the sacking was coming, but also to players and supporters. Spring recruiting, and finding another coach after most other schools have made their new hires, will be hampered with Thomas gone. He had two years left on his contract.
Wozniak said Thomas was never the uncommitted, attention-seeking coach some branded him to be. Amid rumors that Thomas took the Florida International job as a way to work back toward relevancy, Wozniak attested that Thomas had great relationships with his players.
“He was there for us every time,” Wozniak said. And on Monday night, they were there for him.