Despite reports earlier this week that Cal head basketball coach Wyking Jones will be retained for a third season, Cal announced Sunday that Jones has been fired.
Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton never made the decision to keep Jones, so this is not a reversal of a decision. Contrary to earlier reports, the decision did not come until Sunday.
John Canzano of the Oregonian had reported earlier Sunday via Twitter that Cal has reconsidered and has been fired Jones. But it now appears Cal had never formally decided to keep Jones.
Knowlton met with all of Cal's players on Tuesday, but did not make a decision then.
Here is Canzano's Tweet:
"Source: Cal has fired men’s basketball coach Wyking Jones. Came after a meeting on campus mid-day today. He will be bought out of the remainder of his contract."
Canzano also reported that the short list to replace Jones includes former Cal star and NBA coach Jason Kidd, UC Irvine coach Russell Turner and Nevada coach Eric Musselman.
"Cal’s primary target, I'm told by a campus source, is expected to be Jason Kidd … as next men's basketball coach in Berkeley."
However, other Cal sources say the talk that Kidd is the school's leading candidate is just a rumor. The school does not plan to dicuss candidates.
Kidd does not have a college degree and he was involved in a domestic violence episode years ago, which make him an unlikely candidate.
In his two seasons at Cal, Jones went 16-47, including 5-31 in Pac-12 play. The Bears lost 16 straight games this past season before winning their final three regular-season games. They then lost in the first tround of the Pac-12 tournament to Colorado to finish the season 8–23, 3–15 Pac-12.
One reason Jones reportedly was being retained was his relatively cheap $1 million a year salary. Cal will now have to pay off the final three years of his five-year contract, a total of $3 million.
“I am grateful to Wyking for his unflagging dedication and commitment to our program during his tenure at Cal, both as a head coach and as an assistant coach,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “I have witnessed -- and respected -- his strong work ethic, commitment to the University's mission and, perhaps most importantly, his extraordinary care and concern for our student-athletes.
“This was a difficult decision to make and comes after a deliberate and holistic review of our men’s basketball program,” Knowlton continued. “As always, we were guided by the best interests of our student-athletes, as well as the values and objectives of Cal Athletics and our University. As we quickly turn toward our search for a new head coach for our men’s basketball program, I am certain that we will attract a strong, talented and highly qualified pool of candidates. I am confident that we will find someone who will help lead us on a path to being exceptional.”
In the classroom, two student-athletes received Pac-12 All-Academic nods – Nick Hamilton (first team, 2018) and Justice Sueing (honorable mention, 2019).
Jones earned the head coaching job at Cal on March 24, 2017, after serving as an assistant coach for the Bears for two seasons. He succeeded Cuonzo Martin, who left to take the head coaching job at Missouri.
The University’s national search for Jones’ replacement begins immediately.