Richardson, Auburn's interim president, told Ellis on Thursday morning at a brief meeting at Samford Hall that the coach was being terminated immediately following his 10th year as head coach of the Tigers.
"This is a very emotional time for me," Ellis said before reading his statement that includes:
"The players we recruited have set a new mark of success for winning at Auburn that put us near the top of the SEC in terms of games won and trips to the NCAA Tournament. That is why this decision by the Auburn administration is so disappointing.
"I can only say that I have put my heart and soul into this program and I am very proud of the character and class of our players, coaches and loyal alumni who have supported us from beginning to end."
Ellis also thanked the media who have covered him during his time at AU for being "fair" in the way he has been covered as head coach of the Tigers.
Ellis noted that the Tigers made seven postseason trips in his 10 years including two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, something only Kentucky and Florida have accomplished during that time among SEC members. He also noted that no other in-state college has been to the Sweet 16 since 1991.
Coach Cliff Ellis watched his Tigers post a disappointing 14-14 record this season.
The coach's agent, Pat Dye, Jr., son of the former Auburn head football coach and athletic director, said, "As Coach Ellis' representative I am am admittedly biased about his performance as Auburn University's head basketball coach. However, as an Auburn graduate my bias is tempered by strong feelings for the university. Having said that, I am stunned by this decision, which comes less than 12 months after losing to the eventual 2003-2004 national champion, Syracuse, by one point in the Sweet 16 appearance.
"Indeed, when you consider Auburn's basketball history prior to Coach Ellis, I can objectively say that his and his team's accomplishments are remarkable. This is a sad day for Coach Ellis and for Auburn University."
Ellis is scheduled to meet with his players and say good bye on Thursday afternoon.
University officials said on Thursday they hope to have a new coaching staff in place within two weeks. Ellis' assistants (Shannon Weaver, Charlton Young, Tracy Dildy and Jacob Ridenhour) are expected to manage the day to day operations during the interim period.