Howland to remain coach at UCLA
UCLA finished fifth in Pac-12 for second straight year and is not In NCAAs
Coach Ben Howland is under fire for oversight of program in published report
Howland had taken the Bruins to three atright Finals Fours a few years ago
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Coming off what he calls the most disappointing season of his coaching career, Ben Howland said Tuesday that he's intent on changing the culture of the once-storied UCLA basketball program, which staggered through a year that included an NCAA snub and the dismissal of standout player Reeves Nelson.
"This is UCLA, the expectations are higher than anywhere," Howland said. "The success, both in terms of championships and wins and success off the floor, is second-to-none in college basketball. I know the expectation level and no one has higher expectations than me. This has been very disappointing for me."
The Bruins finished fifth in the conference for the second straight year and lost in the quarterfinals of the league tournament, giving them a 19-14 record. They were left out of the NCAA tournament and even the NIT didn't take them, though it did take four other Pac-12 teams.
It was the third consecutive season in which the Bruins recorded double-digit losses following three consecutive trips to the Final Four.
Nelson was suspended twice before being kicked off the team in December for bad behavior.
UCLA's struggles were magnified by a Sports Illustrated article that anonymously quoted former players and staff members from the past four UCLA teams saying Howland had allowed an influx of talented but immature recruits to undermine team discipline and morale. The story suggested the program that boasts a record 11 national championships had been damaged by fights among players and alcohol and drug use by team members.
Howland has posted a 205-96 record in nine seasons at UCLA and remains under contract through 2015.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero issued a statement earlier Tuesday saying he had reviewed the program and decided that keeping Howland was best for the future of the Bruins.
"Obviously, we are aware of the recent criticisms of our men's basketball program; Ben understands full well that the management and oversight of the program needs improvement," Guerrero said in the statement. "He has assured me that, going forward, both the character and performance among our student-athletes will reflect the University's values and the basketball program's storied tradition. I believe that his overall record and performance proves he is more than capable of delivering on these assurances."
Despite the recent turmoil, Howland still maintains the support of his current players.
"I knew people were talking about it, but I never thought his job was jeopardy," sophomore forward David Wear said.
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