James Finley, the head Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) women's volleyball coach, claims he was fired for being gay.

Finley told Richmond NBC affiliate WWBT that he was suddenly let go by the school's new athletic director, Ed McLaughlin.

“We sat down and he was just very short and simply said, 'We want to go in a new direction. We're not going to renew your contract. Thanks for your time,'” Finley said.

Finley said he was shocked because his team had a great season and his players were thriving academically.

“We were 25-6 this year. We moved into a new conference. We were picked to finish 6th and we finished 3rd. We made it to the semi-finals of the A10 Championship. We had a great season. It was the highest winning percentage that we've had with the volleyball program at VCU.”

“It's just unheard of for someone to have a winning record and just get let go,” he said.

Finley said he concluded that the decision was rooted in his sexual orientation. He noted that McLaughlin had avoided speaking to him since his arrival.

“I would say hi to him and he wouldn't respond,” Finley said.

“Ultimately, I came to this decision that I had to stand up, because you know we have a lot of gay and lesbian student athletes,” said Finley. “I can't let them down. They have depended on me to have a safe voice and a safe place to be. We should be judged on the job we do. We shouldn't be judged on who we love.”

Finley said a division of the university meant to support diversity has launched an investigation. (A video report is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)