UCLA cuts ties with Alford after shocking losses

UCLA has fired basketball coach Steve Alford after a series of shocking losses in his sixth season with the Bruins, the school announced Monday.

UCLA is 7-6 after four consecutive defeats, including a 15-point loss at home to Liberty, a 29-point loss at Cincinnati and another home loss to Belmont.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said assistant Murry Bartow will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season.

“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 a statement. “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.”

Alford, 54, and UCLA reportedly agreed to a buyout on Sunday, the day after the Bruins’ shocking 73-58 loss to Liberty.

UCLA hired Alford as its coach in March 2013, agreeing to a seven-year contract that was later adjusted. The contract calls for a $2.6 million buyout, but the amount of their negotiated agreement is unknown.

He leaves UCLA with a 124-63 record. Under Alford, the Bruins appeared in four NCAA tournaments and reached the Sweet 16 three times.

“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.”

Guerrero was under increasing pressure to remove Alford amid reports of unrest among players, protests from fans and complaints from influential donors about the program’s direction.

UCLA begins Pac-12 play on Thursday against Stanford.

On Monday, Stadium listed several potential candidates to replace the 54-year-old Alford. The list includes former Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, former NBA coach and UCLA alum Earl Watson, Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Notre Dame’s Mike Brey.

–Field Level Media

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