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Howland out as UCLA coach

Howland out as UCLA coach

March 25th, 2013 in News

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ben Howland kept it classy in departing as UCLA basketball coach on Monday, thanking the athletic director who had fired him a day earlier while noting the high expectations that come with running a program that owns a record 11 national championships.

Howland was applauded by supporters as he walked into a news conference at Pauley Pavilion for the last time. The 55-year-old coach expressed gratitude for his 10-year run in Westwood, the longest tenure since John Wooden retired in 1975 after 27 years on the sideline.

Howland had a 233-107 record that included three consecutive Final Four appearances and four Pac-12 titles, including this season, when the Bruins were 25-10. Their season ended with a 20-point loss to Minnesota in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"As a coach, you always remember the losses way better than the wins," he said.

Howland said he's excited about his future and wants to coach again, although he doesn't know where or when that will happen.

"It's where the best opportunity is," he said afterward. "I can live anywhere. I want to compete at the highest level."

He said he took the unusual step of meeting the media after his firing because he wanted to publicly thank his current and former players and staff. He recited a laundry list of names, including his wife, Kim, who kissed him after he finished.

No senior athletic department officials attended, including athletic director Dan Guerrero, who fired Howland in a meeting Sunday.

Howland declined to discuss details of what was said.

"I enjoyed our working relationship, his support and his regard for all we accomplished," Howland said, reading from a prepared statement he had worked on after being dismissed.

Howland sidestepped a question on whether he was treated fairly, considering the Bruins won the league's regular-season title and lost in its tournament title game playing without freshman Jordan Adams, who broke his foot in the semifinals.

Howland's four league titles were the most by any UCLA coach since Wooden was roaming the sideline.

"We had a great year. I was so proud of our players and coaches to win the Pac-12 championship," he said. "I feel very good about leaving here with a good nucleus."