Martelli: 'Feels like I've attended my own funeral'

Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team
March 22, 2019 - 8:36 am

For the last 24 season, Phil Martelli has been the head coach of the St. Joe's men's basketball team, helping shape the Philadelphia basketball scene and community. 

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Martelli, 64, was fired earlier this week and spoke emotionally about the decision on Friday's 94WIP Morning Show with Angelo Cataldi. 

"It's a balm, a soothing balm, on a wound that I'm afraid, Angelo, will never heal," Martelli said. "I am overwhelmed and if I was to live and at any point in time people thought I was to live or—what it's felt like Angelo is, I've attended my own funeral."

Martelli talked about the way the firing was executed by St. Joe's Director of Athletics, Jill Bodensteiner. 

"I was aware, as every year, that there were critiques, that there were going to be discussions at the end of the year," Martelli expalined. "I've always been comfortable with that and I've always kind of focused on, are we doing the right things on the court? Are we doing the right things off of the court? Are we staying true to our foundations, to our cultures? I went into the meeting on Monday knowing that there would need to be changes. None of us were happy with things, 14-19. None of us were happy with falling short of preseason predictions, individually and collectively."

Martelli says he left the end-of-the-season meeting focused on getting better. 

"We're going to go back to our roots and we're going to win our next game," Martelli said. "We're going to win the next game we play." 

Cataldi specifically asked Martelli about the way the decision was executed and if he thought the university handled it correctly. 

"I've had to separate it, Angelo, the decision and then the execution of the decision," Martelli said. "So, I still don't know the timing and I have purposely not seen a press release. I have not seen a supposed press conference or any of that. It cut out of my heart. It irreparably harmed my family and I had to concentrate on those areas and not on creating a bitterness and an anger that would not serve me emotionally, psychologically, or for the future."

Villanova head coach Jay Wright joined Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski on the radio earlier this week and was emotional himself of Martelli's firing. Cataldi played the audio clip for Martelli. 

"Angelo, I was made aware (of the audio clip) and I'm not a name dropper," Martelli said. "Mike Krzyzewski called me and told me. Called me directly. These guys are getting ready for the NCAA Tournament. They're getting ready to pursue championships. There have been well over 1,000 texts and emails, it's gotta be approaching 2,000. I'm not bragging. Jay Wright is my friend. Fran Dunphy is my friend. I am overwhelmed and I will sincerely thank everybody."

The vast majority of fans voting on a 94WIP Morning Show believe St. Joe's handled the situation poorly. 

Listen to the full interview below.