March 17, 2003
UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero announced today that Steve Lavin has been released from the position of head men's basketball coach. Lavin was informed of the decision in a meeting with Guerrero this morning. Guerrero will be available this afternoon at a Noon press conference in the Press Room of the J.D. Morgan Center.
A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
"Decisions like this are always tough," said Guerrero about his decision to release Lavin. "However, if this program is to regain its place among the nation's elite, I felt a change was required.
"Steve has enjoyed some important accomplishments during his tenure at UCLA -- six trips to the NCAA tournament and five trips to the Sweet 16 among them. But my assessment of future success had to be based upon what I have observed this year. When all is said and done, I considered what our goals for this program should be and the process necessary to achieve those goals.
"My conclusion was that for UCLA basketball to flourish, a change in leadership was necessary. We certainly wish Steve the very best in his future endeavors. In addition, I want to acknowledge his dignity in handling his situation during difficult times this season," Guerrero said.
Lavin, 38, who compiled a record of 145-78 in his seven years as head coach, had five years remaining on his contract. The contract buyout consists of one year of the full package of $578,000 and four years at the base salary of $153,000.
Prior to his becoming interim head coach in November of 1996, Lavin served as an assistant coach for five seasons (1992-96).
STATEMENT FROM STEVE LAVIN
I began coaching at UCLA in 1991, and in 1996 I accepted the position as UCLA's Head Basketball Coach.
As a teacher/coach, I've known genuine satisfaction in seeing our teams succeed and our players mature, and I am glad to have been a part of this important learning process. In my previous six years our teams enjoyed a series of successful seasons and a very strong NCAA tournament record, but change is a constant in life and it is certainly a given in the coaching profession.
I value the many positive associations I've enjoyed with our student athletes and with my able assistant coaches and staff. I am also thankful for Chancellor Albert Carnesale's loyal friendship and thoughtful leadership, and, of course, to Coach Wooden ( an English teacher like my father) for his encouragement and his special understanding of the game.
After 12 years at UCLA, I take the long view, and I am grateful for the experience of teaching at one of the world's great universities. I will remember most the lasting friendships I've made, and I remain optimistic about the bright future of the program.