Cal fires Mark Fox after four years as men’s hoops head coach

Cal fired Mark Fox as its head men’s basketball coach Thursday, making official a move that was not unexpected amid the program’s struggles.

Fox was let go after the Bears went 3-29 this season, his fourth in charge of the program. Cal lost 69-52 to Washington State in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday.

Overall, Fox’s record in Berkeley was 38-87.

“This was a difficult decision and one that I do not take lightly,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “After deliberately and holistically evaluating all aspects of our program, I felt a change was needed at this time. We will always be guided by the best interests of our student-athletes, as well as the values of our University.”

Cal’s best year under Fox was his first, with the Golden Bears going from back-to-back eight-win seasons under former head coach Wyking Jones to finish with a 14-18 record in 2019-20.

But the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly stunted any growth, as Cal’s press release announcing Fox’s removal said the coach had to navigate “some of the most disruptive restrictions in the country.”

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Fox’s Bears went 9-20 in 2020-21 and 12-20 in 2021-22, putting him firmly on the hot seat entering this season. Fox’s fate may have been sealed by Cal’s nonconference performance, with the Bears going 1-12 and losing games to six mid-major schools.

Cal did win back-to-back Pac-12 games early in the season, beating Colorado and Stanford at home. But the Bears lost their final 16 games.

Now, the Golden Bears will be looking for their first winning season since 2016-17 and their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2015-16, both under Cuonzo Martin. Martin left Berkeley to take the head coaching job at Missouri in 2017.

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