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Monday, January 13
Updated: January 18, 1:20 AM ET
 
Sources: Lavin, staff don't expect to be retained

ESPN.com news services

As UCLA continues to spiral toward a lost season, Steve Lavin says he doesn't plan on walking away.

Sources within the school, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told ESPN.com that the coaching staff -- including Lavin -- expects to be fired at the end of the season.

Monday, Jan. 13
The rumors are circulating big-time. Hey Hollywood, get the story out as the soap opera at UCLA goes on. Will Bruins coach Steve Lavin be back? Or will he pack it in? Will AD Dan Guerrero give Stevie the ax? There are all kinds of rumors hitting the street out in Westwood.
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"It's crazy to think I would resign or quit or walk away," Lavin told ESPN.com late Monday night. "It's been a tough season and we've struggled. That has been well-chronicled. For me to quit or resign would be nuts."

A $1.3 million buyout was created last year within Lavin's current contract, but he would forfeit the money if he resigned. The buyout is structured to be paid out over six years, starting with $578,000 next year and $153,000 over the next five years. Should Lavin be hired for a new job, any salary he makes would be subtracted from the buyout.

Lavin said the only time he considered leaving was when former UCLA athletics director Pete Dalis had conversations with then-idle coach Rick Pitino in December 2000.

"When they were talking to Pitino and it seemed like they had a contract agreed to or in writing, that's when I considered it," Lavin told ESPN.com "I wasn't going to stay around if they had an agreement with another coach. Other than that I never considered quitting as coach."

More than 40 reporters and photographers jammed Lavin's weekly news conference on Tuesday, the biggest turnout in recent seasons, to hear him say he's not going anywhere.

"I'm not feeling any pressure and in terms of pressure on Steve, I think a lot of it is coming from a lot of external issues more than anything else,'' athletics director Dan Guerrero said.

Pitino was never offered the position at UCLA and both he and Dalis denied the two ever talked about Pitino coaching at UCLA, that they just had conversations about coaching in general.

Arn Tellem, Lavin's agent, told ESPN.com on Monday that Lavin hasn't addressed his immediate future with officials. If Lavin did choose to resign, Tellem would negotiate a settlement with the school.

Tellem's remarks refute newspaper reports out of Los Angeles on Monday that said Lavin has had discussions with friends about resigning before the Bruins' next game, which is Thursday night at home against Arizona State.

Guerrero said Saturday he would not fire Lavin during the season.

"Hey, the same thing happens around here every year," Lavin said last week. "Who's getting my job now? I hear Ben Howland (Pitt)? Rick Majerus (Utah)? Mike Riley? Yeah, he didn't get the football job, did he? He'd be good.

"I've been fired so many times, I lose track."

But this season is different than previous ones, when rumors swirled about his possible successor. In past seasons, Lavin, who's been said to have "nine lives" as a coach, has been able to bail out past Bruins team from regular-season struggles. But the hope for this team to turn around is gone.

UCLA officials paint a bleak picture for the coming months. The feeling within the team is that it isn't playing for Lavin anymore, that it lacks leadership, and no one player ever seems upset about losing.

The pressure on the Bruins has become so intense that the phrase "we're heading for a North Carolina-type situation" has been spoken around the basketball office, a reference to the Tar Heels' worst season -- only eight wins -- in school history in 2001-02. In that scenario, however, head coach Matt Doherty was coach of the year the previous season and was only in his second season with the Tar Heels.

Sources have told ESPN.com that Lavin, in his seventh season in Westwood, does not want to leave the program with an awful record. UCLA fell to 4-7 Saturday following its loss to St. John's at Pauley Pavilion and, despite getting off to a 2-0 start in the Pac-10, the Bruins were beaten by Southern California 80-75 on Wednesday.

UCLA hadn't lost to Southern Cal at home in 10 years, further riling a fan base that has rapidly thinned at Pauley. Attendance has dipped to an average of 8,112. It was more than 10,000 last season in the 12,000-seat arena. UCLA has already lost five home games, one shy of tying the regular-season mark by Walt Hazzard in 1987-88, and Lavin hasn't won a Pac-10 title since his first season.

For the Bruins just to make the NIT, they would likely have to go 10-6 in their final 16 games. To be considered for the NCAA Tournament, they would probably need to be 13-3 before the Pac-10 tournament. The Bruins finished sixth last season but still managed to upset No. 1 seed Cincinnati in the second round before losing in the Sweet 16.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.




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 In the Shadows
Embattled Bruin coach Steve Lavin talks with ESPN's Jay Bilas.
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