UCLA has fired men's head basketball coach Steve Alford after a slow start to his sixth season at the helm of one of college basketball's most storied programs.
Alford led UCLA to four NCAA tournament appearances, including three trips to the Sweet 16. The Bruins have limped to a 7-6 start this season, which reached a low-point with a disappointing 73-58 loss Saturday to Liberty.
The defeat was the worst home loss of the Alford era for UCLA.
"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 released Monday. "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."
In a statement released Monday morning, director of athletic Dan Guerrero said assistant coach Murry Bartow will serve as interim head coach through the end 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," said Guerrero. "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.
"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."
Guerrero said the search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
UCLA was 124-63 under Alford, who won a national title as a player in 1987 with the Indiana Hoosiers. He called Saturday's loss the most disappointing in his 28-year career as a coach.