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BC-BKC--California-Fox Hired,1st Ld-Writethru

March 29, 2019
AP Sports Writer

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — California has hired Mark Fox as its new men’s basketball coach.

A person familiar with the hiring said Friday that Fox got the job five days after Wyking Jones was fired. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school had not made a formal announcement. Stadium first reported Fox would get the job.

Fox has a 286-176 record in 14 seasons as coach at Nevada and Georgia. He made the NCAA Tournament five times but never advanced to the Sweet 16. Fox was fired at Georgia last year after failing to reach the tournament in each of his final three seasons with the Bulldogs.

Jones was fired Sunday after back-to-back eight-win seasons at Cal. The Golden Bears had a 16-47 record during his tenure for the worst two-season stretch in school history and also had a school-record 16-game losing streak this year before winning the final three regular season games in the Pac-12.

The 50-year-old Fox got his head coaching career started at Nevada in 2004. He made the NCAA Tournament in each of his first three seasons and advanced to the second round twice during that time. He won at least 20 games each season and had a 123-43 record when Georgia lured him away in 2009.

He made the tournament in his second year with the Bulldogs in 2011 and then again in 2015. But he lost in the first round each time and then struggled to a 57-44 record in his final three years there.

This is the first major hire by athletic director Jim Knowlton, who took over the program last year. He said after firing Jones that he had a short list in place and wanted to fill the vacancy as soon as possible.

Jones won just five conference games in his two seasons at Cal, finishing last in the Pac-12 both years. Attendance fell significantly this year as fans and students grew frustrated with the direction of the program that has made one trip to the NCAA Tournament the past six years.

Cuonzo Martin lost in the first round to Hawaii in 2016, the second of his three years at Cal before leaving for Missouri. Jones was an assistant on that staff and ultimately got the head coaching job.

Cal already had lost one key player with sophomore guard Darius McNeill announcing his intention to transfer last week.

Jones had three years remaining on a five-year, $5 million contract.

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