Wings' Fred Williams relieved of coaching duties

Dallas Wings head coach Fred Williams was relieved of his duties Sunday after a postgame altercation with team president and CEO Greg Bibb. It occurred after the Wings lost 93-80 at Washington, their eighth consecutive defeat.

"I just really put my heart and soul into this organization," Williams told espnW.com by phone late Sunday night. "We've struggled lately but played hard and are still in the playoff picture.

"But there was a little altercation after the game. It's just one of those things that happened. I can only wish the Dallas Wings the best going forward. I wish I could have taken them to the end and seen where the journey ends up."

Williams did not go into the specifics of the altercation with Bibb, but Williams emphasized that he did not want to leave the team.

"These young women played hard for me and believed in me," Williams said, "and I wouldn't have bailed out on them like that."

Former WNBA player Taj McWilliams-Franklin, a Dallas assistant, will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

"Following today's game, I made the decision to change direction in regards to our head coaching position," Bibb said in a statement released by the Wings. "I felt this move was necessary. The season has not met our expectations.

"I have asked Taj to serve as our interim head coach and I have the upmost confidence that she and our staff will do everything possible to put us in the best position to win. I wish Fred the best moving forward. Our focus remains on qualifying for the playoffs and ultimately competing for a WNBA championship."

The Wings, 14-17, are still in the hunt for the eighth and final WNBA playoff spot, with a one-game lead over the Las Vegas Aces. But Dallas has not won since July 19. The Wings have three games left: at Connecticut on Tuesday; at home versus the Aces on Friday; and at league-leading Seattle on Sunday, the final day of the regular season.

Williams said he thought the Wings players had been competing hard during their losing streak but that they struggled to make shots in key moments.

Williams, 61, has an extensive history in women's college basketball, dating back to the early 1980s with Southern Cal, which included two NCAA titles as an assistant. Later, he also was the head coach at USC, from 1995 to 1997.

He began his WNBA coaching career with Utah in 1998, first as an assistant and then head coach. He also was an assistant in Charlotte and then in Atlanta before taking over as the Dream's head coach during the 2012 season.

In 2014, he became the Tulsa Shock's head coach, a role he kept as the franchise moved to Dallas to become the Wings in 2016. In his previous four years with the Shock/Wings, he made the playoffs twice, in 2015 and last season.

McWilliams-Franklin played 14 seasons in the WNBA, winning championships with Detroit in 2008 and Minnesota in 2011.

As for his contractual status, Williams said details of his separation from the Wings were still being worked out by his agent. He said he still wants to coach and will see what other opportunities might become available in the pro or college levels.

"Absolutely, that's been in my blood for decades," he said. "It's in my DNA to coach and teach. I definitely want to stay in coaching."