Whispers about Sparano's job security began when the Dolphins started the season with seven straight losses. Though they improved to 4-9, it wasn't enough to save Sparano's job.
"This was a very difficult decision, but I believe it is in the best interests of the Miami Dolphin organization to make this change at this point in time," said Dolphins Chairman of the Board and Managing General Partner Steve Ross at the Monday afternoon press conference explaining the decision.
"The current situation was not fair to both Tony and the team - it was a distraction to everyone and put them all in a very difficult situation. We need to start the process right now to begin the steps needed to return the Dolphins back to one of the elite teams in the NFL."
The Miami Herald reports that finding a big-name coach who has proven himself to be a winner is a priority for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Brian Billick are all possible candidates.
"We will implement a search process that is thorough, that is designed to produce the best possible candidate, that will be fully compliant with appropriate guidelines and that will be carried out with integrity," Ross said. "[Dolphins General Manager] Jeff Ireland and I will use all the resources of the organization to help identify and research viable candidates to select the best possible individual as the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins."
Sparano's record with the Dolphins was 29-31. In January, Miami extended his contract through 2013.