UCLA men's basketball coach Ben Howland has been fired after 10 seasons in Westwood, athletic director Dan Guerrero said Sunday. The Bruins' season ended Friday night with an 83-63 loss to Minnesota in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Howland, 55, finishes his 10-year stint at UCLA with a career record of 233-107. He took the Bruins to the Final Four in three straight years from 2006 to 2008, a streak which included a national championship game appearance in '06. Since then, however, the program hasn't advanced past the first weekend of the tournament. That streak of five consecutive seasons without a Sweet 16 appearance is the longest of the post-John Wooden era.
After missing the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons, Howland momentarily silenced critics this past offseason by signing the nation's top-rated recruiting class. The centerpiece of the class, Shabazz Muhammad, wasn't cleared by the NCAA until Nov. 16, however, and never appeared to gel with the rest of his team. When the Bruins' up-and-down season ended without a win in the big dance, the common thought was that the Howland era would soon be drawing to a close.
Rumors have already started swirling about who will take over at UCLA, the program with more national championships than any other in Division-I. Florida's Billy Donovan, VCU's Shaka Smart and Villanova's Jay Wright are among the names that have already been thrown around as potential replacements for Howland.