UCLA hires Cincinnati’s Cronin as head coach

UCLA ended a long search Tuesday by naming Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin as the 14th head coach of the Bruins.

According to ESPN, Cronin agreed to a six-year, $24 million deal.

Cronin, 47, replaces Steve Alford, who was fired in December midway through his sixth season.

Cronin spent the last 13 seasons at his alma mater Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a 296-147 record. He was 69-24 in three seasons at Murray State before taking over at Cincinnati in 2006.

“Mick Cronin is a fierce competitor, and I’m excited to welcome him to Westwood,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “Mick has built a fantastic program at Cincinnati, backed by integrity and discipline, and he has instilled an undeniable toughness in his student-athletes. I am confident he will build this program the right way and lead UCLA basketball back to national prominence.”

The Bruins pursued a number of high-profile coaches before reaching a deal with Cronin, terms of which were not immediately available. TCU’s Jamie Dixon, Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Kentucky’s John Calipari were all linked to the search.

UCLA won 10 national championships in a 12-season stretch under the legendary John Wooden in the 1960s and 1970s, but the Bruins haven’t been to the Final Four since 2008 and have not won the NCAA Tournament since 1995.

Cronin said he was excited about the challenge ahead of him.

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to become the head coach at UCLA,” Cronin said. “UCLA is a very special place with a strong tradition of excellence. To be able to join such a world-class institution is truly a privilege, and I can’t wait to get started in Westwood.”

The Bruins finished 17-16 this season, including 9-9 in the Pac-12.

Cronin’s Bearcats were 28-7 and lost to Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

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