The news is the culmination of a five-year span from 2013-2017 that saw Romar and Washington go 79-83 (.488), including 34-56 (.378) in conference. Their best league standing was a tie for sixth in 2012-13. From that point on the Huskies finished no better than eighth in the Pac-12, and 11th twice.
“After evaluating our men’s basketball program, I have determined that a change in leadership is necessary,” Washington Athletic Director Jennifer Cohen said. “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, the Dean of the Pac-12 coaches, finished his Washington career with a 298-195 (.604) record, the most wins of any Washington head coach in the modern era and second all-time to Hec Edmundson’s 488 wins.
The UW alum guided the Huskies to six NCAA Tournament appearances - including three Sweet 16s - three Pac-12 Tournament championships and two regular-season conference titles.
But it was not making the Big Dance the last six years that gave even the most ardent Washington supporters room to doubt whether or not Romar could get UW back on track.
“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. “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.”
This news throws the whole program, already staggering from the weight of the longest losing streak in school history, into chaos.
The future of Washington’s 2017 signing class will now be cast into doubt. Michael Porter, Jr. and Daejon Davis, two of the five signees, have publicly come out in support for the embattled head coach saying they would only play in the purple and gold under Romar’s leadership.
Porter, arguably the best high school prospect in the country, is the son of Michael Porter, Sr., one of Romar’s assistant coaches. It’s been widely speculated that if Romar was let go, Porter, Sr. would be let go too - thus creating a situation where Junior would ask to be released from his letter of intent.
Then there is the question of who will replace Romar. With no clear line of succession, Cohen will have her hands full targeting top candidates and enticing them to Montlake. With a healthy buyout for Romar, finances will likely hamstring her ability to offer big money to attract big names.
With the decision to remove Romar done, it is more than likely a complete revamp will take place going forward.
UPDATED (5:45 pm) - Here is what UW Athletic Director Jennifer Cohen said about not retaining Romar.
“Thank you so much for being here tonight and for being here on short notice. We wanted to get in front of the team and the staff before we had you in. As you know, earlier today we notified Lorenzo that he was not going to be retained as our head men’s basketball coach. As you can imagine today has been extremely difficult and very emotional for a lot of people. And that’s because of who Lorenzo is. He’s a special person. He’s been a wonderful colleague and he’s meant so much to this university community and meant so much to so many people through the 15 years that he’s been here, and before that as a student-athlete.
“Coach Romar represented our university in so many positive ways: as an alum, as an ambassador, as a mentor to so many student-athlete which he still is now. And he led the teams with integrity and class. Unfortunately despite some of these strengths, we were not able to achieve the results we needed on the court.
“When we recruit student-athletes, we offer them an extraordinary education at a world-class institution. But we also offer to them the opportunity to be the most competitive athletes that they can be. And we offer them the opportunity to compete for championships. That’s who we are. That’s a big part of our mission.
“And so in the end, after a thorough evaluation, we felt like a leadership change was necessary for us to create the championship culture we think Washington deserves.
“We wish Lorenzo and Leona and his family the absolute best. There’s never going to be any words that I can say that could give all the thanks that he deserves for his 15 years of service here.
“I also want to thank Will Conroy, who has agreed to serve as the program’s point person during this interim time. Will is a fabulous Husky and his number-one priority is to focus on our current student-athletes and our incoming freshmen during this difficult transition.
“Our focus now turns to an immediate national search for the next Husky Men’s Basketball Coach. This program has remarkable fans, it has remarkable donors, we have an unbelievable university and we’re in a fabulous city that has a talent-rich basketball history. We feel confident that we’re going to be able to attract a coach that shares our vision and passion for developing young men on and off the court that has a high standard for excellence and that has energy, passion and a plan for inspiring a winning culture.”