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March 24, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Ben Howland out, Lorenzo Romar linked to UCLA vacancy

UCLA fired men’s basketball coach Ben Howland.

In 10 seasons, he compiled a 233-107 record, with seven NCAA Tournament berths, including a string of three Final Fours from 2006-2008.

The Bruins won the Pac-12 regular-season championship, advanced to the conference tournament title game, made a trip to the NCAA tournament and posted a 25-10 record this season.

However, Howland began the year on the hot seat and needed a deep run in the March to save his job. Some would say, he was a goner no matter how the season.

Yahoo! Sports was the first to report Howland’s dismissal after No. 6 seed UCLA lost 83-63 to No. 11 seed Minnesota in the second round on Friday.

Last year the program came under scrutiny after a Sports Illustrated story portrayed a team lacking discipline. Several players have transferred in recent years. The Bruins missed the NCAA tournament in 2012 and 201o. UCLA has finished in the top five of the Associated Press final poll just once in the past 18 years. And the Bruins have difficulty attracting fans to new Pauley Pavilion.

Howland had five years left on his deal and will reportedly receive a $3.2 million buyout, that includes $2.3 million immediately and $900,000 over the next four years.

In a statement, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said: “I want to thank Ben for all that he has done for UCLA in his ten seasons in Westwood. He embraced our tradition and culture and produced some terrific teams and coached a number of wonderful young men. We wish Ben and his family all the best as they move onto a new chapter in their lives.”

“I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach at UCLA for 10 years and I will always be grateful to Dan Guerrero and Chancellors Block, Abrams and Carnesale for the opportunity to coach and teach our players and work alongside tremendous coaches,” Howland said in a statement released by the school. “The UCLA community and fans have been unbelievable to my family and I, and it’s been an honor and privilege to represent this great institution. I look forward to what comes next.”

Early speculation from media types say UCLA will take a look at Washington coach Lorenzo Romar.

It’s not the first time he’s been linked to the Bruins job. Raised in Compton, Calif., Romar is a disciple of UCLA legendary coach John Wooden even though he played two years at Washington.

Romar was an UCLA assistant when the Bruins won the 1995 national championship.

When the job opened in 1996, Romar was offered the position. He was coaching at Pepperdine at the time and declined. UCLA hired Steve Lavin.

When the job opened again in 2003, Romar was considered a leading candidate. UCLA hired Howland.

Now 10 years later, Romar is once again being tied to the Bruins job. Citing unnamed sources, the Los Angeles Times is reporting UCLA is interested in Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart and Butler’s Brad Stevens.

Of course, this is just speculation at this point.

Last year, Romar was linked to the Illinois job. In 2011, the Minnesota Timberwolves were reportedly interested in him.

Romar has called Washington his “dream job.” He has a contract that currently pays him $1.7 million annually and expires March 31, 2020. If he were to leave and take a job with a school in the Pac-12, Romar would owe UW at least $1 million in compensation.

He’s scheduled to meet with the local media Monday to wrap-up Washington’s disappointing season. The Huskies finished 18-16 following a 90-79 defeat at BYU last week in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

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