UCLA Basketball: Ben Howland Fired After 10 Years

With UCLA's recent exit from the NCAA tournament, and after four years of unsuccessful campaigns, the program has fired head coach Ben Howland.

The full details and some quotes after the jump.

Ben Howland's buyout will be pretty hefty, as the coach will receive one worth $2.3 million due to the fact that he had two years left on his contract. As it was, Howland was the highest-paid employee in the University of California system.

Here's the full release from UCLA Athletics:

The University of California Los Angeles has relieved Head Men's Basketball Coach Ben Howland of his duties effective immediately and a national search for his successor has begun. Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero informed Coach Howland of the decision this afternoon.

"I want to thank Ben for all that he has done for UCLA in his ten seasons in Westwood," said Guerrero. "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 onto a new chapter in their lives."

In 10 seasons in Westwood, Howland compiled a 233-107 record, with seven NCAA Tournament berths, including a string of three Final Fours from 2006-2008.

"I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach at UCLA for 10 years and I will always be grateful to Dan Guerrero and Chancellors Block, Abrams and Carnesale for the opportunity to coach and teach our players and work alongside tremendous coaches," Howland said. "The UCLA community and fans have been unbelievable to my family and I, and it's been an honor and privilege to represent this great institution. I look forward to what comes next."

While Howland had arguably the most success at UCLA since the days of John Wooden (Jim Harrick may have something to say about that, but we digress), it was clear that he wasn't turning the program around. Not only did he burn local recruiting bridges in California because of his style of play and abrasive personality, but he mismanaged players consistently, with transfers leaving the program and succeeding under different coaches elsewhere. The most salient examples were Mike Moser at UNLV and Drew Gooden at New Mexico. The national media may bitch and moan about this for days, but four years of this and early tournament exits wouldn't qualify for any of the other five blueblood college hoops programs.

The Bruins will now begin a search for a new coach, with Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens at the top of the short-list (both of which saw their teams bounced from the tournament in the Round of 32).

We'll keep an eye on this for y'all.