UCLA fired its men’s basketball coach, Steve Alford, two days after a 73-58 loss to Liberty extended its losing streak to four games, and dropped its record to 7-6.
Assistant coach Murry Bartow will serve as interim head coach through the end of the season, athletic director Dan Guerrero said in the statement announcing Alford’s firing on Monday.
Bartow is a son of the late Gene Bartow, UCLA’s basketball coach from 1975-77 and the legendary John Wooden’s successor.
The midseason coaching change is the first in the history of the storied UCLA program, an 11-time NCAA champion.
“Throughout my career as an athletic director, I have maintained a belief that making a head coaching change during a season is rarely in the best interests of our student-athletes or program,” Guerrero said. “In this case, however, it is now clear to me that what is best for our current students and for the overall good of the program, is to make this change now.”
He continued: “While Steve led us to three Sweet 16 appearances, we simply have not been performing at a consistent level and our struggles up to this point in the season do not bode well for the future. On behalf of UCLA Athletics, I want to thank Steve, Tanya and the entire Alford family for their commitment to UCLA and wish them all of the best in the future.”
Alford’s existing contract will be honored by UCLA Athletics, using department-generated funds, officials said.
Alford coached the Bruins to a 124-63 record in six seasons, including four NCAA tournament appearances and three in the Sweet 16. Alford coached 11 NBA draft selections, including seven first-round picks.
“I’m extremely appreciative to everybody at UCLA for what has been a tremendous run and the chance to work with such special student-athletes and coaches,” Alford said in a statement.
“While I wish we could have had more success, my family and I are so grateful for our time in Westwood. We wish this program nothing but the best. I sincerely hope that the UCLA community will rally around this team, its players and the coaching staff as Pac-12 play begins.”
A comprehensive, national search for a new head coach will begin immediately, university officials said.
Guerrero will be assisted in the search by senior associate athletic director Josh Rebholz, associate athletic director Chris Carlson and Golden State Warriors President of Basketball Operations/general manager Bob Myers, a four-year UCLA basketball letter winner and a member of its 1995 NCAA championship team.
Bartow will make his debut as Bruins coach Thursday when they open Pac- 12 play by hosting Stanford. The game comes on the seventh anniversary of the elder Bartow’s death in 2012 at the age of 81.
Bartow, 57, was hired as an assistant coach in April after serving on the coaching staff at South Florida in the 2016-17 season, including posting a 1-16 record as interim coach.
Bartow succeeded his father as Alabama-Birmingham’s coach in 1996 after seven seasons as an assistant. He coached the Blazers to a 103-83 record over six seasons and one berth in the NCAA tournament.
Bartow was East Tennessee State’s coach from 2003-2015 with a 224-165 record and three NCAA tournament berths.
He began his coaching career in the 1986-87 season as a graduate assistant on Indiana’s NCAA championship team and spent two seasons as an assistant at William & Mary.