Lorenzo Romar’s tenure as Washington’s men’s basketball coach is over after 15 years, the school announced Wednesday afternoon.
“After evaluating our men’s basketball program, I have determined that a change in leadership is necessary,” UW athletic director Jen Cohen said in a press release. “Today is particularly difficult because Coach Romar is such a beloved member of our University community. I want to thank Lorenzo and his family for 15 years of dedicated service and sacrifice to our University.”
Romar and the Huskies finished 9-22 in 2016-17, missing the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season despite having top NBA prospect Markelle Fultz at point guard. Fultz announced last week he will enter the NBA Draft after just one season with Washington.
The press release states that a national search “will begin immediately” to identify UW’s next head coach. Cohen said at a press conference Wednesday evening that assistant coach Will Conroy will serve as the point person in the interim. She added that she came to the decision to let Romar go “a few days ago.”
Romar, who was earning $1.7 million annually, was signed through the 2019-20 season at Washington. The school will pay Romar’s full buyout, which is $3.2 million, according to Cohen.
Cohen said that Washington will wait to release commits from their National Letters of Intent until after the position is filled and commits have a change to meet the new head coach.
Washington has struggled in recent years under Romar on the court, but he has consistently been able to bring in high-ranked recruiting classes. That includes next season with a class that included five-star recruit Michael Porter Jr. of Nathan Hale High School in Seattle. Romar’s departure throws Porter’s commitment to UW, and all other recruits, into doubt.
Porter’s father was added to Romar’s staff last year as an assistant coach, but ESPN.com’s national director of recruiting Paul Biancardi reports that Porter Jr. did not sign a National Letter of Intent to Washington and that new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin will add Michael Porter Sr as an assistant, likely meaning Porter Jr. will head to Missouri.
Porter Jr. tweeted his disappointment in UW’s coaching change shortly after the announcement Wednesday.
Loved this coaching staff and couldn't wait to start something special next year…this hurts. 😔
— Michael Porter Jr. (@TheMPJ1) March 15, 2017
In 15 years with Washington, Romar went 298-196, reaching six NCAA Tournaments, including three trips to the Sweet 16 (2010, 2006, 2005). The Huskies won three conference tournament championships and three regular season conference championships under Romar.
“As a former student-athlete, and an alumnus of the University of Washington, this is definitely not an easy day for me. I was really looking forward to coaching our team next year and beyond. However, God had a different plan,” Romar said in the press release. “I am proud of a lot of things we were able to accomplish in the 15 years that we were here. I want to thank all of the coaches, players and staff who played a part in that success. I will always support the University of Washington, and pull for the Huskies.”