Howland, UCLA agree to seven-year contract

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA coach Ben Howland, who has guided the Bruins to the Final Four each of the past three years, agreed to a new seven-year contract with the university Tuesday.

The deal, which adds one year onto the agreement he signed last October, runs through the 2014-15 season and includes a guaranteed $1.97 million for next season, rising to $2.3 million in the final year of the contract. The incentive package from his previous agreement, a maximum of $235,000, is retained in the new contract.

His previous contract guaranteed compensation of $1.5 million for the 2007-08 season and a boost to $2 million in the final year. He earned $1.2 million for the 2006-07 season.

"I have said this before, but there is no place I would rather be coaching than UCLA," Howland said. "I grew up a Bruin basketball fan and this is my dream job.

"UCLA is a special name in college basketball thanks to coach [John] Wooden and I am proud to be the caretaker of his program," Howland said.

Although the Bruins have been to the Final Four the last three years, one of only four schools ever to accomplish that, they have yet to win an NCAA title under Howland. This year, they lost to Memphis in the national semifinals.

The 51-year-old Howland took the Bruins to a school record for wins on their way to a 35-4 record last season, and they won their third straight Pac-10 title.

That made Howland the first coach since Wooden to produce three conference champions in a row. UCLA has also won two of the past three Pac-10 postseason tournaments.

Howland, who turned around programs at Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh, went 11-17 in 2003-04, his first season at UCLA. The Bruins improved to 18-11 the following season and then were 32-7 in 2005-06.

"Ben Howland and UCLA are a great combination," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. "Ben is at the top of his profession and is deserving of this commitment by the university.

"He has returned UCLA to the nation's elite, as illustrated by three straight Final Fours and three consecutive 30-win seasons. ... The foundation Ben has built for our program promises to keep us at the forefront for the foreseeable future," Guerrero said.