SEATTLE – The University of Washington reportedly fired men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar on Wednesday, 15 years after he took over the program from Bob Bender.
The move came after a disastrous season for the Huskies, who finished 9-22 overall and 2-16 in the Pac-12 Conference despite the presence of one of the top players in the nation in Markelle Fultz.
The firing was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, and the school quickly confirmed the news.
UW athletic director Jen Cohen said a nationwide search for a replacement will begin immediately.
"After evaluating our men's basketball program, I have determined that a change in leadership is necessary," Cohen said in a statement. "Today is particularly difficult because Coach Romar is such a beloved member of our university community. I want to thank Lorenzo and his family for 15 years of dedicated service and sacrifice to our university."
Complicating matters is the fact the Huskies have one of the top recruiting classes in the country lined up for next season, led by five-star recruit Michael Porter Jr.
Porter’s father, Michael Sr., is a longtime friend of Romar and was brought on by Romar as an assistant last May.
Soon after UW announced Romar's departure, ESPN reported that Porter. Sr. would join former Cal coach Cuonzo Martin's staff in his new job at Missouri. Martin resigned from Cal on Wednesday morning to take over at Missouri.
His younger brother, Jontay Porter, is a junior and had made an early commitment to join the Huskies after he graduated. Both Porter brothers tweeted soon after news broke on Wednesday.
In addition to the Porters, the Huskies have letters of intent from Blake Harris, Jaylen Nowell, Daejon Davis and Mamoudou Diarra.
The Huskies, however, have struggled even with top-tier talent on their roster in recent years. Last season, they failed to make the NCAA tournament despite the presence of first-round draft picks Marquese Chriss and and Dejounte Murray.
"As a former student-athlete, and an alum of the University of Washington, this is definitely not an easy day for me," Romar said in a statement. "I was really looking forward to coaching our team next year and beyond. However, God had a different plan."
Romar was named conference coach of the year three times, and the Huskies won three regular-season conference championships and three conference tournaments under him.
The school called a players’ meeting for 3:30 p.m. to discuss Romar’s future.
Romar finished his UW tenure at 298-196 overall, 143-127 in the Pac-12. The Huskies, however, haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2011.