UCLA coach Ben Howland talks to his players during the second half of a second-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2013, in Austin, Texas. Minnesota won 83-63. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Sunday, March 24, 2013 2:48 am
UCLA: Ben Howland has not been fired
By BETH HARRISAP Sports Writer
A school spokesman said late Saturday night that contrary to multiple media reports UCLA had not fired Howland.
Howland told the Los Angeles Times that he had not yet spoken to athletic director Dan Guerrero, who typically evaluates Howland and the program after every season. Yahoo Sports reported that Howland had already been notified that he was out.
The Bruins' season ended Friday with an 83-63 loss to Minnesota in the NCAA tournament.
Howland has a 233-107 record in 10 seasons at UCLA. He took the Bruins to three Final Fours and won four Pac-12 championships, including this season. He has two years left on his contract that includes a $2.3 million buyout.
Howland had a series of ups and downs this season that included center Joshua Smith quitting the team for personal reasons and guard Tyler Lamb leaving over a lack of playing time in the same week in November that the Bruins were upset by Cal Poly and dropped out of the Top 25.
The season opened with star recruits Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson under investigation by the NCAA.
Muhammad missed the first three games and had to repay $1,600 in impermissible benefits after the NCAA and UCLA found that he had accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina.
Anderson was cleared to play after being investigated for potential recruiting violations.
A year ago, UCLA's season ended in turmoil after the Bruins went 19-14 and missed the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. Howland kicked standout Reeves Nelson off the team and an unflattering Sports Illustrated article suggested that the coach had lost control of the team.
But Howland bought himself more time with his best recruiting class since the program made those three straight Final Four appearances ending in 2008.
Muhammad, Anderson and Jordan Adams had standout seasons as freshmen this year, although Adams broke his foot in the Pac-12 tournament and his absence hurt the Bruins in their loss to Minnesota.