Cal has fired men’s basketball head coach Mark Fox after his fourth season in charge, two years before his contract was set to expire. The move was announced by Cal Athletic Director Jim Knowlton on Thursday, just one day after the Bears crashed out of the Pac-12 tournament in a 69-52 loss to Washington State.
“This was a difficult decision and one that I do not take lightly,” Knowlton said in his statement. “After deliberately and holistically evaluating all aspects of our program, I felt a change was needed at this time.”
Cal is coming off a program-worst 3-29 campaign that featured two double-digit losing streaks. Fox’s Cal opened the 2022-2023 season with 12 losses on the bounce, the worst-ever start by a major conference team.
Cal’s offensive struggles this season were enduring and insurmountable. The lack of a successful scheme to compensate for the Bears’ deficient scoring talent meant that they were consistently outgunned by opponents. Apart from leaving transfer guard Devin Askew to create a shot in isolation, Cal had no reliable scoring formula, and his injury troubles at the new year completely stifled the Cal offense.
The Bears finished the year with their lowest points per game tally since the 1983-1984 season.
Fox was hired by Knowlton ahead of the 2019-2020 season. The Nevada Hall of Famer led Cal to a 14-18 season in his first year in charge, a marked six-win improvement after Cal’s back-to-back eight-win seasons under Wyking Jones. That proved to be Fox’s most successful season as Cal’s head coach and the only campaign under his direction in which the Bears tallied more than five conference wins.
In the 2022 offseason, Fox’s contract was extended by one year to run through March 31, 2025, even though Knowlton acknowledged that the team’s progress was “not exactly on track,” to Cal Sports Report.
Despite the criticism he received ahead of the 2022-23 season, Fox remained confident in his project’s development.
“This is the first team where I really feel my handprints are all over it,” Fox said in October.
Fox finishes his time at Cal with a 38-87 total record, 17-61 in the Pac-12. He is the second-least successful coach in the Bears’ history by winning percentage, second only to Jones.
Cal is beginning “a national search immediately to find its new head coach,” according to Cal Athletics.