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AFTERMATH UCLA fires Lavin following worst season in 55 years



Published: Fri, March 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Bruins' position was one of four that opened up Monday.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The e-mails, phone calls and faxes started arriving long before UCLA completed its first losing season in 55 years.

Now, athletic director Dan Guerrero can begin reviewing potential successors to Steve Lavin.

There figures to be no shortage of applicants to run one of college basketball's most storied programs. A record 11 national championship banners ring the rafters of Pauley Pavilion.

"We'd like to see UCLA basketball rise to the level of the nation's elite, and we'd like to hire a coach that can get us to that point," Guerrero said.

That didn't happen in seven years under Lavin, fired Monday after the Bruins' first losing season since 1947-48. The decision had been anticipated for months by everyone, including the 38-year-old Lavin.

"This has been a very trying year for everyone," Guerrero said.

Three other openings

Lavin was one of four coaches to leave their jobs Monday. Larry Shyatt resigned at Clemson, Jerry Dunn stepped down at Penn State and Curtis Hunter was fired by North Carolina A & amp;T.

Lavin went 145-78 in seven years and took the Bruins to the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament five times in six years, a feat matched only by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Lavin's teams won at least 20 games every season except this one.

But they never reached the Final Four.

UCLA went 10-19 overall and 6-12 in Pac-10 play, finishing sixth for the second straight year -- its worst-ever conference showing. The Bruins upset then-No. 1 Arizona in the first round of the conference tournament, then blew an 11-point lead and lost by a point to Oregon.

"That's not acceptable," Guerrero said after a 13-minute campus news conference. "You need to be consistent throughout the year. You need to finish at the top of your conference so you can put yourself in a position to get the highest seed in the postseason tournament."

NCAA streak ends

The Bruins' streak of 14 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances ended this season.

At Clemson, Shyatt resigned 24 hours after the Tigers' postseason hopes were dashed when they failed to earn a spot in the NIT.

Shyatt made his decision after meeting with athletic director Terry Don Phillips.

Clemson wound up eighth this season in the Atlantic Coast Conference after three straight last-place finishes. The Tigers went 15-13 this season, and Shyatt was 70-84 in five years at Clemson.

Dunn resigned after a 7-21 finish this season. He spent eight years at Penn State, going 117-121 and 45-87 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions won just seven games each in his last two seasons.

Hunter was fired following a 1-26 season. Of the 327 schools in Division I, Tennessee State was the only other one to finish this season with just one victory.




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