Just days after rumors that Wyking Jones would be returning for this third season, John Canzano is now reporting that the California Golden Bears have indeed fired Wyking Jones.
Source: Cal has fired men’s basketball coach Wyking Jones.— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) March 24, 2019
Came after a meeting on campus mid-day today. He will be bought out of the remainder of his contract.
Jones’s coaching career began at his alma mater—Loyola Marymount—for the 1996–97 season. As an assistant, his most notable run was when he joined the staff of Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals in 2011. This team peaked in 2012–13 when they won the NCAA Tournament, but the NCAA vacated all of the wins—and the national championship—from that season because the team had ordered strippers and prostitutes for recruits and players. Jones joined the California Golden Bears in 2015 for then–head coach Cuonzo Martin’s second season. When Martin left for the Missouri Tigers, Jones was elevated to head coach in March 2017.
It’s been tough sledding for the Bears under Jones’s leadership. In his first year, Jones was responsible for a team that went 8–24 (2–16 Pac-12) with a first-round loss in the Pac-12 Tournament. His second year was arguably even worse. The record was somewhat comparable (8–23, 3–15 Pac-12), but Cal went on an atrociously incomprehensible 16-game losing streak—including our first 15 conference games—the worst losing streak in program history. The regular season ended on a bright note, though, with three-straight wins over the no. 25 Washington Huskies, the Washington State Cougars, and the Stanford Cardinal.
Canzano is reporting that our “primary target” will be Cal legend Jason Kidd, but Russell Turner and Eric Musselman will also be on our short list.
(cont.) Short list for Cal here: Jason Kidd, Russell Turner (UC Irvine), Eric Musselman (Nevada).— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) March 24, 2019
UPDATE: Cal has released their official statement. It is in its entirety below.
BERKELEY – Wyking Jones, who has guided California men’s basketball for the past two seasons, will not return as head coach of the Golden Bears next year, Director of Athletics announced Jim Knowlton announced Sunday.
In two seasons at the helm for the Bears, Jones posted a 16-47 record, which included back-to-back wins at Stanford, a marquee upset of No. 25 Washington and a 2-0 record over San Diego State.
“I am grateful to Wyking for his unflagging dedication and commitment to our program during his tenure at Cal, both as a head coach and as an assistant coach,” Knowlton said. “I have witnessed - and respected - his strong work ethic, commitment to the University’s mission and, perhaps most importantly, his extraordinary care and concern for our student-athletes.
“This was a difficult decision to make and comes after a deliberate and holistic review of our men’s basketball program,” Knowlton continued. “As always, we were guided by the best interests of our student-athletes, as well as the values and objectives of Cal Athletics and our University. As we quickly turn toward our search for a new head coach for our men’s basketball program, I am certain that we will attract a strong, talented and highly qualified pool of candidates. I am confident that we will find someone who will help lead us on a path to being exceptional.”
This past season, Cal went 8-23 overall and 3-15 in Pac-12 play, closing out the regular season with three consecutive wins, including a home sweep of the Washington programs and a win at Stanford. Cal fell to Colorado, 56-51, in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament to end the season.
Cal slightly improved its record from an 8-24 overall, 2-16 Pac-12 finish in Jones’ first season in 2017-18. The Bears finished 12th in the Pac-12 in both of his seasons, with first-round exits in the conference tournament.
In the classroom, two student-athletes received Pac-12 All-Academic nods – Nick Hamilton (first team, 2018) and Justice Sueing (honorable mention, 2019).
Jones earned the head coaching job at Cal on March 24, 2017, after serving as an assistant coach for the Bears for two seasons.
The University’s national search for Jones’ replacement begins immediately.
AD Jim Knowlton also sent out this email to the Cal Fan Base, the entirety of the email is below.
Dear Friend of Cal Athletics,
Earlier today, I met with Coach Wyking Jones, and shared my decision to make a change in the leadership of our Men’s Basketball program. It is never easy when the time has come to end a professional relationship with a valued and respected colleague, but effective today, Wyking will no longer serve as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Cal.
I am grateful to Wyking for his unflagging dedication and commitment to our program during his tenure at Cal, both as a Head Coach and as an Assistant Coach. I have witnessed - and respected - his strong work-ethic, commitment to the University’s mission and, perhaps most importantly, his extraordinary care and concern for our student-athletes. I have appreciated the time we have spent working together.
This was a difficult decision to make and comes after a deliberate and holistic review of our men’s basketball program. As always, we were guided by the best interests of our student-athletes, as well as the values and objectives of Cal Athletics and our University. Intercollegiate Athletics at Cal offers a unique opportunity for student-athletes to compete at the highest level while earning a degree from the #1 public institution in the world. We are the home of national champions, Olympians and Nobel Laureates. Everything we do must strive to meet those standards. As we quickly turn toward our search for a new head coach for our Men’s Basketball program, I am certain that we will attract a strong, talented and highly qualified pool of candidates. I am confident that we will find someone who will help lead us on a path to being exceptional.
Cal Men’s Basketball needs to be a point of pride for alumni, donors, season-ticket holders and fans. I look forward to rebuilding our program, to competing for championships, and to continue fostering an environment where student-athletes can flourish on the court and in the classroom as they develop into the best versions of themselves.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Cal Athletics.
Director of Athletics