March 26, 2008
BERKELEY - Ben Braun, who served as California men's basketball coach the past 12 seasons, has been relieved of his duties with the University, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced Wednesday.
"This was an extremely difficult decision that was undertaken with great care and diligence," Barbour said. "However, in the final analysis, I have determined that it is time for Cal to seek new leadership in our men's basketball program. Competing for conference championships and a place in the NCAA Tournament are goals and expectations that are embraced at Cal. Unfortunately, we have not been able to consistently meet those expectations in our men's basketball program.
"All of us in the Cal family recognize and are exceedingly appreciative of the contributions that Ben Braun has made to our program, our institution and our community," Barbour added. "He and his student-athletes have always represented Cal with great class and dignity, and we will always be grateful for his strong leadership during some of the program's most difficult times. We wish Ben nothing but the best as he transitions to his next challenge."
During his tenure with the Bears, Braun compiled a 219-154 record and guided the team to five NCAA Tournament berths and three National Invitation Tournaments. His first squad in 1996-97 reached the NCAA Sweet 16, earning him Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors, while he guided the 1998-99 team to the NIT championship.
After reaching the postseason in six of his first seven years, which included four trips to NCAAs and two NITs, Braun led Cal to one NCAA Tournament and one NIT the past five seasons. However, the Bears have placed eighth or ninth in the Pac-10 three of the last four years. Cal was 141-79 overall and 71-55 in the Pac-10 under Braun from 1997-2003, but 79-75 overall and 39-51 in league games from 2004-08.
Cal completed its 2007-08 campaign with a 73-56 loss at Ohio State Monday in the second round of the NIT. The Bears were 17-16 on the year and finished ninth in the Pac-10 with a 6-12 mark.
"I'd like to thank the Cal community for 12 great years of support," Braun said. "I've had the privilege to coach at one of the top university's in the country, and I'm proud of the program we've built. Going to eight postseason tournaments has been very special. I'm obviously disappointed that my staff and I won't be able to coach this team next year, and I feel they will be very successful."
Braun was hired as Cal's men's basketball coach in September 1996 from Eastern Michigan and guided the team through a three-year probationary period that was caused by NCAA violations under the previous coach. In that first year, he steered the Bears to a 23-9 record and a second-place Pac-10 finish, and Ed Gray was named Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Braun also coached one other Pac-10 Player of the Year - Sean Lampley in 2001 - and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Leon Powe in 2004. Overall, Braun's players received first-team All-Pac-10 recognition nine times, including sophomore forward Ryan Anderson this past season, Pac-10 All-Freshman status on seven occasions and Pac-10 All-Academic honors 14 times.
Braun's 219 victories at the school are second on Cal's all-time list behind only Nibs Price, who was 449-294 from 1925-54, and he has a 31-year career mark of 552-389, which includes a 185-132 record in 11 seasons at Eastern Michigan from 1986-96 and a 148-103 record at Siena Heights College from 1978-85. At the end of the season, Braun's 552 wins ranked 11th among NCAA Division I active coaches.
Barbour said that a national search for a new head coach, which will be aided by the firm of Eastman & Beaudine, Inc., and will include input from select department staff, university personnel and external constituents, will begin immediately. She did not indicate a timetable for hiring a replacement. Associate head coach Louis Reynaud will direct the program until a new head coach is named.
Ben Braun's Year-by-Year Record at Cal Year Overall Pac-10 Postseason 2007-08 17-16 6-12/9th NIT 2nd Round 2006-07 16-17 6-12/8th 2005-06 20-11 12-6/3rd NCAA 1st Round 2004-05 13-16 6-12/T8th 2003-04 13-15 9-9/T4th 2002-03 22-9 13-5/3rd NCAA 2nd Round 2001-02 23-9 12-6/T2nd NCAA 2nd Round 2000-01 20-11 11-7/T4th NCAA 1st Round 1999-00 18-15 7-11/7th NIT Quarterfinals 1998-99 22-11 8-10/T5th NIT Champions 1997-98 12-15 8-10/T5th 1996-97 23-9 12-6/T2nd NCAA Sweet 16 Total 219-154 110-106 5 NCAA, 3 NIT