UCLA officially fired head coach Ben Howland on Sunday after Minnesota dominated and eliminated the Bruins from the NCAA tournament on Friday.
Howland amassed the second-most wins in school history, leaving him only behind legendary coach John Wooden, in his ten seasons in Westwood. He also made three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2006-08. UCLA lost in the national semifinals in each of those three seasons.
“I want to thank Ben for all that he has done for UCLA in his 10 seasons in Westwood,” UCLA athletic director Dan 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 on to a new chapter in their lives.”
UCLA hired Howland to replace Steve Lavin ten years ago from Pittsburgh. Howland, a Santa Barbara native who went to Cerritos High School in Southern California, said UCLA was the only place that would compel him to leave Pittsburgh.
“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 released through the university. “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.”
Howland’s style of play had been criticized in addition to his ability to relate to his players and help develop team chemistry. Many of UCLA’s top recruits transferred because they were frustrated with Howland’s system. Many believed Howland’s slow-it-down offense hamstrung UCLA’s talented players in a city that demands “Showtime.”