UPDATE: Sunday, March 24 at 10 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
UCLA announced on Sunday that it has officially fired head coach Ben Howland, according to Andy Katz of ESPN.
Katz tweeted on Sunday:
Jeff Eisenberg @JeffEisenberg
Along with @SpearsNBAYahoo, Y! Sports reports that UCLA coach Ben Howland has been notified that he has been fired, two sources confirmed.3/24/2013, 12:59:38 AM
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UPDATE: Sunday, March 24 at 1:05 a.m. ET by Ian Hanford
According to CBS' Jeff Goodman, UCLA is denying that it has fired Howland:
Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
UCLA now officially releases that Ben Howland has been relieved of his duties.3/25/2013, 1:51:56 AM
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UPDATE: Saturday, March 23 at 9:21 p.m. ET by Mike Hoag
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Eisenberg is reporting that what was expected has actually happened: UCLA has fired head coach Ben Howland.
He cited two sources who confirmed that Howland has already been notified of his termination.
This news surprises very few people after the Bruins' second-round exit at the 2013 NCAA tournament. The loss marked another disappointing showing for the Bruins at the Big Dance.
Howland has failed to lead the program past the round of 32 after bringing them to the Final Four in three consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2008.
This latest loss, against the 11th-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers, was the tipping point for the administration to finally sever ties and start over.
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UPDATE: Saturday, March 23 at 8:45 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney
According to CBS Sports' Gary Parrish, nothing is official yet:
UCLA coach Ben Howland, as of Saturday night, still hadn't heard from or met with athletic director Dan Guerrero, a source told CBSSports.com. Consequently, there is nothing new to update about his job status with the Pac-12 school, though it seems likely, at this point, that Howland will not return for an 11th season.
An official announcement could come early next week.
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According to NBA.com and SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria (via ZagsBlog.com), the Bruins have reportedly decided to cut ties with the veteran head coach:
Ben Howland will be fired as the head coach of UCLA, with an official announcement coming possibly as early as Sunday, a source with direct knowledge confirmed to SNY.tv.
The news was first reported by Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop.
The source said UCLA was looking to retain assistant coach Korey McCray, who was instrumental in recruiting freshmen Tony Parker and Jordan Adams.
This doesn't come as much of a surprise.
Led by colorful analyst Bill Walton, the group calling for Howland's job has grown significantly over the past season, and Friday's loss to the Golden Gophers was the final straw.
After taking over for Steve Lavin in 2003, it only took Howland three seasons to return the historically dominant Bruins to the Final Four. Then he did it again in 2007 and 2008.
But after three straight appearances in the Final Four (and no national championships to show for it), the Bruins quickly began to move in the opposite direction.
In 2009, they won 26 games and ranked fourth in the country at one point, but Villanova beat them by 30 points in the round of 32. In the next three seasons, they made the tourney just once, losing in the round of 32 to Florida in 2011.
This season was supposed to be different.
Howland brought in one of the nation's best freshman classes, headlined by all-world guard Shabazz Muhammad and had several key transfers from North Carolina. The Bruins ranked 13th to start the season.
UCLA won 25 games and the Pac-12 regular-season title, but it was an inconsistent, bumpy ride that ended with a 20-point loss at the hands of equally inconsistent Minnesota in the NCAA tournament.
With many clamoring for something to be done, UCLA finally made the move.
It's unclear what direction UCLA will head from here, but according to the report, Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens, Mark Gottfried, Billy Donovan and Jay Wright are all on the Bruins' star-studded wish list.