RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In a stunning development, Saint Augustine's University fired legendary track and field coach George "Pup" Williams.
Williams whose career with the school spanned more than 52 years, confirmed to ABC11's Mark Armstrong that he had been let go.
Williams' attorney, Nick Sanservino, released a statement Wednesday evening saying that the university "unlawfully terminated" him without cause.
"Coach will vigorously fight for his rights so he can continue to serve the students and greater community," the statement reads in part. "If there was ever an individual who should be able to complete his mission on his terms, it is Coach Williams."
Williams also served as the school's athletics director.
Williams returned to coaching for the university in early February after being involved in a near-death ATV crash in Qatar.
During his time with the school, Williams led the Falcons to 39 NCAA national championships and had won more championships than any active coach regardless of division and sport. In 2004, Williams served as the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Head Coach.
Williams previously told ABC11 that he was on board for another NCAA national championship, but he was considering retiring in 2021.
Saint Augustine's announced later Wednesday that head football coach David Bowser has been named interim athletics director, replacing Williams.
Bowser came from a 20-year stint at Fayetteville State University.
"The University is pleased to have Coach Bowser take on this role and we look forward to him making a significant impact with our scholar-athletes, especially during this time of global transition in sports," said Dr. Maria Lumpkin, Interim University President. "Coach Williams has been an integral part of the University for over 50 years and we appreciate his selfless dedication as well as his willingness to place the Falcon Nation on a worldwide platform throughout his celebrated career."
Thursday morning, St. Augustine's released a statement saying the university had been in negotiations with Williams since March 2020 and had offered him the opportunity to stay on as head coach of the track team and honored with a lifetime appointment of Athletic Director Emeritus. However, Williams declined the offer.
"St. Augustine's University deeply appreciates the contributions of Coach George Williams over the last 52 years," the university wrote. "His achievements as a world-class track coach are unquestionable with both a winning record at SAU and as the US Olympic Team track coach. He has left an indelible mark on SAU's track program, students and colleagues."