Holton will not return as coach at Portland

Updated: March 24, 2006, 7:48 PM ET
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- University of Portland basketball coach Michael Holton was fired Friday after five seasons with the team, athletics director Larry Williams announced.

Holton, who played at UCLA and had a six-year career in the NBA, compiled a 54-91 overall record as head coach at Portland. The Pilots were 20-50 in the West Coast Conference.

"I was informed this morning by Larry Williams of his decision to make a change in leadership in the men's basketball program," Holton said in a statement Friday. "In the last five years, I worked hard to build a basketball program for the University of Portland."

Holton was known for pushing his players academically and required a yearly etiquette seminar for the team. He also held a financial responsibility workshop for the players.

"Coach Holton is a man of great character and integrity and it has been my pleasure to work with him," Williams said. "He is an extremely talented human being and it is hard for me to see him go. We all offer him our sincere best wishes for the future."

Williams said that a search would begin immediately for a new coach.

The Pilots went 11-18 this past season. One of the team's accomplishments was the its sweep of the other Oregon schools -- Portland State, Oregon and Oregon State -- for the first time since 1949.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to coach in the city of Portland where I played professionally and began my Division I coaching career," Holton said. "I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with my staff, the players and the fans and I wish Larry and the program well."

Holton played for the Portland Trail Blazers for two seasons from 1986-88, and spent one year as an assistant at Oregon State before rejoining his alma mater as an assistant for five seasons.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press