Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Could Friday be it for Howland at UCLA?
By Joe Kaiser
UPDATE: It's looking more and more like Ben Howland could be on his way out at UCLA at the end of the season.
On Monday morning, Tracy Pierson of BruinReportOnline.com wrote an insightful update on Howland's status.
"I had previously reported, as far back as December, that UCLA was leaning toward letting go Ben Howland," Pierson wrote. "Everything I've heard in the last week or so has re-emphasized it, to the point where I can say it's pretty well-accepted now that UCLA will have a new coach for next season."
If Howland is indeed let go, UCLA could be in for a pretty hectic month ahead with players deciding whether to declare for the NBA draft, 2013 signees potentially being released of their scholarships, and what would be the first men's basketball coaching search in over a decade.
UCLA backed its way into the Pac-12 regular season title this season, but Ben Howland may still need to lead the Bruins to at least one win in the NCAA tournament in order to stay on with the school.
Howland's seat has been warm for a number of years now due to the team's underachieving ways, sagging attendance and what's become a steady stream of players transferring out of the program. And while the Pac-12 championship and another trip to the NCAAs is nice, the bar has been lowered around Westwood if anyone thinks simply making the Big Dance is a successful season.
"There is talk that the athletic department, for both basketball and business reasons, wants this season to be Howland's last," Plaschke wrote. "There is word that a $2.3-million buyout is already in place. There is a feeling that only a Sweet 16 appearance could save his job, and even that might not be enough."