UCLA has fired basketball coach Ben Howland after 10 years on the job.
Howland was notified of the decision Sunday afternoon by Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. During a teleconference with reporters on Sunday, Guerrero said a search for Howland’s replacement has already begun.
“I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach at UCLA for 10 years and I will always be grateful to Dan Guerrero and Chancellors Block, Abrams and Carnesale for the opportunity to coach and teach our players and work alongside tremendous coaches,” Howland said in a statement. “The UCLA community and fans have been unbelievable to my family and I, and it’s been an honor and privilege to represent this great institution. I look forward to what comes next.”
The statement comes less than a day after Yahoo Sports released a report that Howland had been informed of his firing on Saturday. The school later denied the reports, stating that UCLA had not fired Howland as of Saturday night.
“I want to thank Ben for all that he has done for UCLA in his 10 seasons in Westwood,” Guerrero said in a statement. “He embraced our tradition and culture and produced some terrific teams and coached a number of wonderful young men. We wish Ben and his family all the best as they move onto a new chapter in their lives.”
Howland leaves UCLA with a career record of 233-107. He missed the NCAA Tournament just three times and took the Bruins as far as the national championship game in 2006 during a run that included three Final Fours.
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“The evaluation of a coach involves a number of other things beside just wins and losses,” Guerrero said. “I felt that now was the appropriate time.”
Guerrero said he and his staff will “cast our net broadly” in the search for Howland’s successor and didn’t rule out the possibility of looking at former or current professional coaches. If a prospective coach is currently competing in the NCAA Tournament, Guerrero said he would wait until that coach’s team was finished with the tournament.
The university is working with an $80 million budget to hire its new coach, $3.5 million of which will be used to buy out the remaining years on Howland’s contract.
Guerrero is looking for a coach that can play a “fun” and “quality” style of basketball. Howland was often criticized for a brand that many thought was boring.
The AD is also looking for a coach who can “excite the fan base.” UCLA opened a renovated Pauley Pavilion this season at a price tag of $136 million but only sold it out twice.
Compiled by Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff.