BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -California fired basketball coach Ben Braun on Wednesday following another disappointing season in which the Golden Bears missed the NCAA tournament.
Braun spent 12 years at Cal and made the tournament five times. But the Bears only went to the NCAA tournament once in his final five seasons, leading to the decision by athletic director Sandy Barbour.
``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.''
Cal finished in ninth place in the Pac-10 this season, going 17-16 overall and just 6-12 in the conference despite having a talented roster that included likely future NBA players in Ryan Anderson, DeVon Hardin and Patrick Christopher.
The Bears made the NIT, where they were knocked out in the second round by Ohio State on Monday night.
Braun leaves Cal with a 219-154 record at the school. His most successful season was his first after taking over after former coach Todd Bozeman was found to have paid $30,000 to the father of a former player. The Bears went 23-9 in 1996-97 and went to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Cal won the NIT in 1999 and made three straight trips to the NCAA tournament from 2001-03, before struggling in recent years as other conference programs have improved. The Bears have placed eighth or ninth in the Pac-10 in three of the last four years.
``I'd like to thank the Cal community for 12 great years of support,'' Braun said in a statement. ``I've had the privilege to coach at one of the top universities 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.''
According to terms of the most recent contract extension that went through the 2010-11 season, Braun is due a $985,000 buyout.
Beaudine, Inc. Associate head coach Louis Reynaud will direct the program until a new head coach is named.
Names that have already surfaced as possible replacements include TV analyst and former UCLA coach Steve Lavin, former Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman and Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett.
Braun has a school-record 11 postseason victories and reached a record five NCAA tournaments. His 219 victories at the school are second on Cal's career list behind only Nibs Price, who was 449-294 from 1925-54.
The 54-year-old Braun coached at Eastern Michigan and Siena Heights College before joining the Bears in September 1996. His career record is 552-389 in 31 seasons.
Braun was born in Chicago and played one year of basketball at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He graduated in 1975.

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