UCLA fires coach Ben Howland

UCLA fired coach Ben Howland on Sunday night following the team’s disappointing loss to Minnesota in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Bruins looked completely listless in the 83-63 defeat to the Golden Gophers on Saturday evening.

Rumors ran rampant and wild that Howland would be relieved of his duties if UCLA failed to make the Sweet 16 and that proved to be just the case.

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero made the announcement on Monday and thanked Howland for his service to the university.

A statement from Guerrero read:

“I want to thank Ben for all that he has done for UCLA in his ten seasons in Westwood. 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 into a new chapter in their lives.”

Howland led the Bruins to a PAC 12 regular season title but lost in the conference tournament final to Arizona before bowing out in the NCAA round of 64 to Minnesota.

The 55 year old guided UCLA to three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2006 to 2008 but has only won one tournament game since their last trip to the national semi-finals.

Howland was diplomatic following UCLA’s decision to dismiss him and said he was pleased to have been a part of the university for so long.

“The UCLA community and fans have been unbelievable to my family and I and it’s been a great honor and privilege to represent this great institution,” he said. ” I look forward to what come next.”

UCLA will fork out $3.5 million to buy out the remaining five years on Howland’s contract. VCU head coach Shaka Smart, Florida’s Billy Donovan and Butler’s Brad Stevens are reportedly on the university’s wish list to replace Howland.