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UCLA fires men’s basketball coach Steve Alford days before start of Pac-12 play

After 5 1/2 seasons and a 124-63 overall record with the Bruins, Steve Alford is no longer the coach of UCLA men’s basketball. (Axel Lopez/Assistant Photo editor)

By Joy Hong and Angie Forburger

December 31, 2018 9:36 am

This post was updated Dec. 31 at 10:45 a.m.

Steve Alford’s time in Westwood has come to an end.

UCLA has fired the coach midway through his sixth season, the athletic department announced Monday morning. Assistant coach Murry Bartow will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero said in a statement that although making a coaching change midseason is rare, the program needed it immediately.

“We simply have not been at a consistent level,” Guerrero said. “Our struggles up to this point in the season do not bode well for the future.”

After a 73-58 home loss to Liberty on Saturday, UCLA men’s basketball donors pressured administration for a change in personnel, and a negotiation on Alford’s buyout reached an agreement Sunday evening, according to the Bruin Online Report.

The Bruins opened the 2018 season 5-0, but followed that losing six of their last nine games – including their two most recent home losses to Belmont and Liberty.

“While I wish we could have had more success, my family and I are so grateful for our time in Westwood,” Alford said in a statement. “We wish this program nothing but the best. I sincerely hope that the UCLA community will rally around this team, its players and the coaching staff as Pac-12 play begins.”

Alford joined the Bruins in 2013 and led them to a 124-63 overall record. UCLA reached four NCAA tournaments and made three Sweet 16 appearances during his tenure.

The Bruins advanced to the round of 16 in their first two seasons under Alford, making him only the fourth coach in program history to lead his first two teams to that point.

In the 2016-2017 season, Alford finished with a 31-5 record and took his team to the Sweet 16, led by freshman standout and eventual second overall pick in the NBA Draft Lonzo Ball.

Following the departure of Ball and forwards TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu – who were both drafted in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers – and the graduation of guard Bryce Alford, the Bruins finished with a 21-12 record in the 2017-2018 season.

Prior to his arrival in Westwood, Alford spent six seasons as the coach at New Mexico and led the Lobos to three NCAA tournament appearances.

Alford first made a name for himself as a collegiate player at Indiana. Under coach Bobby Knight, Alford led the Hoosiers to an NCAA championship in 1987.

Following the conclusion of his senior season, Alford was picked No. 26 overall in the 1987 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. He spent four years in the NBA – playing for both the Mavericks and Golden State Warriors – before beginning his coaching career.

While the Bruins open conference play Thursday against Stanford, the athletics department said a comprehensive search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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Joy Hong | Managing editor
Hong is the 2019-2020 Managing editor. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the women's basketball, men's water polo, women's water polo, women's tennis, and beach volleyball beats.
Hong is the 2019-2020 Managing editor. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the women's basketball, men's water polo, women's water polo, women's tennis, and beach volleyball beats.
Angie Forburger | Editor in chief
Forburger is the 2019-2020 editor in chief. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the women's volleyball, gymnastics, softball, swim and dive and rowing beats and was a Sports reporter before that.
Forburger is the 2019-2020 editor in chief. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the women's volleyball, gymnastics, softball, swim and dive and rowing beats and was a Sports reporter before that.
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