Well, oh well, it looks like ol' Chianti Dan won't be cashing in that big fat $750,000 retention bonus check after all. Early this morning, Chancellor Gene Block announced that Dan Guerrero would not be retained as UCLA's athletic director. Key in the decision, reportedly, was the manner in which Guerrero handled the firing of former basketball coach Ben Howland, followed by the coaching search that resulted in New Mexico's Steve Alford being brought in as Howland's replacement.
If you recall, word that Howland was fired leaked to the media shortly after UCLA was dumped from the NCAA tournament by Tubby Smith's Minnesota, only for Morgan Center to issue a press release denying Howland had been fired and that he was still UCLA's basketball coach. Within 24 hours, Howland was officially terminated. Likewise, when the coaching search for Howland was underway, numerous leaks from Morgan Center indicated that large donor money, specifically Wasserman's slush fund, was being lined up to bring in Louisville's Rick Pitino, Florida's Billy Donovan, or Butler's Brad Stevens, all of whom expressed serious interest in coming to UCLA. However, following an initial overture to Stevens, which was reportedly refused when Guerrero offered, UCLA immediately turned to Alford, without waiting to approach either Pitino or Donovan, and failed to even consider VCU's Shaka Smart or Wichita State's Gregg Marshall. Apparently, the process didn't please Chancellor Block, who had an in-depth meeting with his top aides (including Vice Chancellor Rhea Turteltaub), who had analogized Morgan Center's downturn as being comparable to the medical center sliding down from a Level I trauma center to a Level IV trauma center. Sources inside the Chancellor's office report that, upon hearing the news, Block threw a paperweight through his office television.
The Chancellor's office released an official statement this morning (in relevant part):
After much discussion with my administration, on both the academic and athletic side of the university, I have concluded that it is time for UCLA to head in a new direction with our Athletic Department. I would like to thank Dan Guerrero for all that he has done for UCLA, but given the results, both on and off the field, over the past decade, it is clear that UCLA needs to change how it does business. We can no longer operate using the same model that has been in place for the past 30 years. It became clear, given the widespread fan, alumni, and donor unrest that cannot be further ignored, that Mr. Guerrero needed to be relieved of his duties as athletic director. I will begin by meeting with Mr. Alford to discuss our coaching situation; as chancellor, I have not yet approved his employment with the University, and I will enlist the help of various university stakeholders to assess whether Mr. Alford is an appropriate hire for UCLA; we will also be contacting other coaching candidates, including Virgina Commonwealth's Shaka Smart and again, Butler's Brad Stevens, to gauge their interest in leading the Bruins now that we have made leadership changes at Morgan Center. I will be meeting with numerous university stakeholders to decide where we will go from here, but rest assured, I will make sure we hire an athletic director capable of leading UCLA into the 21st century and returning the Bruins to their place atop the intercollegiate athletic world.
Moving trucks have been spotted outside of Morgan Center, reportedly loading up numerous crates of various wines. Reportedly, it's chianti but that has yet to be confirmed.
Rejoice UCLA fans, rejoice!
Oh, and enjoy April Fool's Day.
Don't you keep wishing you would find out that Chianti Dan and this Steve Alford hire are one big UCLA April Fool's joke? Too bad it's not. It's time to make this post (an April Fool's joke this year) a reality as soon as possible.
FIRE DAN GUERRERO