Westphal dismissed as Pepperdine coach

Updated: March 15, 2006, 9:38 PM ET
Associated Press

MALIBU, Calif. -- Paul Westphal was dismissed as head coach of Pepperdine's men's basketball team Wednesday after a 7-20 season.

Westphal, who previously coached Seattle and Phoenix in the NBA, was with Pepperdine for five seasons.

"I felt it was time to make a change and he was very professional," athletic director John Watson said. "He was very disappointed, yet accepting of the decision."

Watson praised Westphal, 55, for his integrity and strength of character and said dismissing him was hard because he admires him so much.

"I don't have enough good things to say about Paul as a coach or human being. I wish it had been different because he was an ideal match for this institution," Watson said.

Watson declined to discuss any contract issues related to Westphal's dismissal.

Westphal did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

A search for a new coach will begin in earnest early next week, Watson said.

Pepperdine ended its season with eight straight losses, the Waves' longest losing streak since losing eight in a row in the 1995-96 season.

Westphal, who played college basketball at the University of Southern California, also previously coached at Grand Canyon College and Southwestern Baptist Bible College, both in Phoenix.

He played in the NBA for 12 seasons with stints in Boston, Phoenix, New York and Seattle. He was a member of the 1974 Boston team that won the NBA title.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press