LOS ANGELES – Ben Howland denied a report Saturday night that he had been told he was out as UCLA’s basketball coach.
Howland said he had not yet spoken to athletic director Dan Guerrero, who in the past has handled such personnel moves personally.
It is expected that Howland will be replaced, but Yahoo Sports reported that he had already been notified.
Howland has a 233-107 record in 10 seasons at UCLA. He took the Bruins to three Final Fours and won four conference championships.
Howland’s contract, which has two years remaining, includes a $2.3-million buyout.
UCLA officials will focus on Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart and Butler coach Brad Stevens, a person close to the athletic department said. UCLA also will consider an ex-NBA coach, the person said.
Virginia Commonwealth and Butler were eliminated from the NCAA tournament Saturday.
Changes were expected in the wake of the Bruins’ 83-63 loss to Minnesota in the NCAA tournament Friday. UCLA won the Pac-12 regular-season title and finished 25-10, but that was not considered enough for Howland to be retained.
Other changes are expected.
Freshman Shabazz Muhammad is expected to declare for the NBA draft. Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker are pondering decisions – Anderson about declaring for the NBA and Parker about transferring.
Travis Wear, the Bruins’ even-keeled junior forward, was almost resigned to the inevitable after the Minnesota loss.
“We had a good season,” Wear said. “I thought Coach Howland did a good job with us. You know, we won the Pac-12 championship. I like Coach Howland. He’s a great coach. I guess we’ll see what happens.”
He will see soon. Guerrero is expected to meet with Howland this week.
Guerrero declined to comment about Howland after the Minnesota loss, saying only, “It was a tough night.”
For Muhammad in particular.
Friday started with the report that he was a year older than originally thought.
“I didn’t tell anyone I was 19,” Muhammad said. “I knew I was 20. I don’t know what the big deal is. I always tell people I’m 20.”
Someone forgot to notify the UCLA sports information department, which listed Muhammad’s age as 19 in the media guide and in his online profile … until Friday.
It probably will have little effect on Muhammad’s NBA future.
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