By JOSH DUBOW
AP Sports Writer
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — California men’s basketball coach Mark Fox was fired Thursday following the worst season in school history.
The Golden Bears finished 3-29 in Fox’s fourth season as coach following a 69-52 loss Wednesday in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament against Washington State. Cal set a school record for most losses and worst winning percentage in a season.
Cal went 38-87 in Fox’s tenure, ending his final season on a 16-game losing streak. Fox’s .304 winning percentage ranking second worst in school history to predecessor Wyking Jones’ 16-47 mark (.254) in the two seasons before Fox arrived.
“I want to thank Mark for his unwavering commitment to our men’s basketball program,” Cal Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said in a news release. “He led the team through some challenging times, and always did so with the class and professionalism we have come to expect from him. … I wish him the best of luck in the future.
“This was a difficult decision and one that I do not take lightly. After deliberately and holistically evaluating all aspects of our program, I felt a change was needed at this time,” Knowlton said.
The Bears said they will immediately begin a search for a coach. That person will be tasked with reviving a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2016 and hasn’t won a game in the tournament since 2013 under Mike Montgomery.
Fox couldn’t even get close, posting a losing record in all four seasons.
Adding to the issues for Fox was the complete lack of interest in the program. Cal’s home attendance averaged just 2,155 this season for the lowest mark among any team in the Power 5 or Big East. That’s down from an average of 9,307 per game in Cuonzo Martin’s last season in 2016-17 and from 5,627 the year before Fox arrived.
The Bears were coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons when Fox was hired in 2019 to replace Jones. Cal showed some progress in Fox’s first season by going 14-18 but quickly regressed as the program struggled following the impact of the pandemic.
The Bears went 9-20 in 2020-21, 12-20 the following season and bottomed out this season when they were tied with Green Bay for the worst winning percentage in all Division I and set a record for most losses in a season in conference history.
Cal had the worst winning percentage among any school in the six major conferences during Fox’s tenure. The Bears also were the lowest-scoring team (62.4 points per game) in all Division I under Fox and had the worst scoring margin of any major conference team under Fox.
Fox had gone to the tournament five times in his two previous head coaching stops, taking Nevada there in 2005-07 and then Georgia in 2011 and 2015. Fox had a winning record in 11 of 14 seasons before arriving at Cal, with a 286-176 overall mark. ___
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25