LOS ANGELES — UCLA has parted ways with basketball head coach Steve Alford, ESPN reported Monday morning and then confirmed by the university later in the day.
The school also confirmed that assistant Coach Murry Bartow will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the basketball season.
There have been several discussions about Alford job status in recent weeks, but it is believed that a 15-point home defeat to Liberty on Saturday forced the hands of the hierarchy.
“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,” said athletics director Dan Guerrero in a release on Monday.
“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.http://gty.im/917146962
“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, who was never a popular figure with the UCLA fan base, despite his runs at NCAA Tournaments, was in charge of the Bruins programs for five and a half seasons.
He compiled a 124-63 record during his tenure.
After starting the season with four wins in a row and a 7-2 record in the opening nine games of the campaign, the Bruins (7-6) have lost four games in a row, including a 73-58 loss at Pauley Pavilion at the weekend, which Alford described as “one of the most disappointing games” he’s had as a coach.
“This might be one of the most disappointing games I’ve had,” Alford said after going down to Liberty. “Trying to reflect back throughout 28 years, and the word disappointment of just our team and how we performed.
“I don’t know the last time I was this disappointed in a team. It did not look like us at any level, as far as how we prepped, how we practiced, how we watched film, things that we’ve done.
“The execution was extremely poor at both ends. Just very disappointed in how we played.”
UCLA also suffered an 80-66 loss to No. 15 Ohio State, went down 93-64 to Cincinnati and a 74-72 defeat to Belmont in the four-game losing streak.
Despite leading the Bruins to three Sweet 16 appearances, Alford has always been targeted with fans who arranged for flying banners over campus to call for his firing twice in the past three years.