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Report: Ben Howland’s job is in jeopardy

Dec 20, 2012, 5:30 PM EDT

spt-120301-benhowland AP

Tracy Pierson of is as plugged into the UCLA program as any reporter in the country.

He’s the guy that broke the news that Joshua Smith will be transferring. He’s a voice that you can trust even if he’s speculating, because you can be sure that, somewhere in the UCLA hierarchy, that same speculation is happening.

Which is why I feel comfortable posting about the latest from Pierson, who, on Thursday, gave us a status report on the job status of Ben Howland.

And as you can probably imagine, it’s not all that promising. From BRO:

UCLA is currently leaning toward replacing Ben Howland as its head basketball coach, and he could be let go before the end of the season, according to sources.

There is also an indication that UCLA has taken preliminary steps in investigating potential coaching candidates.


Sources are indicating that booster and donation support of Howland has diminished considerably so far this season, and that has been critical in this development.

Frankly, none of this is a surprise. Howland is alienating boosters and coaching in front of sparsely populated crowds in the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. Players keep transferring out of UCLA, which certainly isn’t a good thing considering that Howland has dealt with two major PR disasters in 2012: George Dohrmann’s article in SI chronicling everything that went on in the UCLA program during Howland’s tenure and the fact that everyone that follows college hoops believes that he, in some way, managed to circumvent NCAA rules to land Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.

And, to top it all off, Howland is losing games to teams like Cal Poly.

At a place like UCLA, it simply doesn’t work like that.

And any scuttlebutt that says his job is in jeopardy is, frankly, not surprising.

The question that intrigues me more, however, is who will get the job is Howland is forced to step down. The Bruins are one of college basketball’s bluebloods; that job is, simply put, one of the best in the country. Would it be enough to get a guy like Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart to leave their current posts? Would the Bruins be able to lure in someone like Thad Matta or Mark Few? Would they look towards the NBA ranks for a replacement?

For now, that’s all speculation.

But the speculating won’t last long if Howland doesn’t turn things around this season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

  1. gwylie1 - Dec 20, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    8-3 with one bad loss to Cal Poly. The players leaving is a bit concerning but let the season play out before making a decision. I wouldn’t be surprised if UCLA makes it to the sweet 16.

  2. sherlockbasketball - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    I heard Jeff Goodman is also plugged in but sometimes people report what they want not what actually is going on. You are even speculating on Kyle and Shabazz but isn’t it NC and Duke that committed the violations? How much have you dug into that one? Wasn’t it today that a “reporter” was questioning yahoo’s reporting on Texas? Maybe we should start rumors on which reporters may lose their jobs because they are too lazy to investigate and run after stories started by boosters who may have an agenda. Until Guerrero says something, you should probably check into real stories like why NC and Duke were not punished or what your job actually is to do?

  3. bruinjoe - Dec 21, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    Tracy is going to lose a lot of money because of this story if he’s wrong. He is taking a big risk.

  4. donklos - Dec 21, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    This type of announcement only hurts the on-going recruitment efforts. Why would a prospect give UCLA consideration when the coaching position is up in the air? So now all other elite programs have an advantage. Way to go Tracy.

  5. truetarheelfan - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    No umc nore duke broke any rules and neither did shabazz it was a long time famiky friend and per ncaa rules a friend can pay further more the one to unc visit was unofficial which meant the unc stsff or recruiting bosrd did not pay he came on his own dime or friends not sure about dukes I do know said friend was on dukes coaching staff

    • sherlockbasketball - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:27 AM

      Both NC and Duke compliance departments approved the trip and payment by the family friend. Therefore either they knew that it was not within the rules or they didn’t bother to find out. Either way, for them to approve the trip and endanger his eligibility, was out of bounds and they shouldn’t be at their jobs or like any other job, they should expect their responsibility of letting this student down.

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