SALT LAKE CITY — Following a second-round exit from the Pac-12 Tournament last week, Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak got emotional after the game as he discussed the future of the program.
On Tuesday, the emotions made a little more sense.
After 10 years of putting his stamp on the program, which included two NCAA Tournament appearances midway through his tenure, Krystkowiak has been removed as the program's head coaching position.
In a released statement, University of Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said he informed Krystkowiak on Tuesday that he was making a change.
"The decision comes after a thorough evaluation of the program — both on and off of the court — as I do with every head coach at the conclusion of their seasons," Harlan said. "Ultimately, our program needs a new voice, a new vision, and a new leader who can build upon Larry's foundation and lead us to greater heights in the years ahead."
Krystkowiak took over a program that struggled under its previous coach, Jim Boylen, and brought in a rising batch of recruits that included current NBA players Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl and Kyle Kuzma to build the program. The program continued to increase its win total each season and made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2015 and 2016, and a Sweet 16 loss to eventual national champions Duke in 2015.
Once the aforementioned players left the program, Utah struggled to stay atop the Pac-12 and never got back to the Big Dance. Utah did, however, advance to the NIT championship game in 2018, but then lost to Penn State. In Krystkowiak's final season with the Utes, Utah finished with a losing record (12-13, 8-11) and eighth in the conference standings, which is his second-worst finish in his decade at Utah.
"Larry has always been dedicated to our student-athletes, to our university and to the Salt Lake City community, and I am grateful for his decade of service to the University of Utah," Harlan said. "In addition, he and his wife Jan have been incredibly generous in supporting university and community initiatives. I want to wish Larry, Jan and their family the very best.
"The costs associated with this termination and the hiring of a new head coach and staff will be fully funded from athletically-generated resources. We will launch an immediate national search for a new head coach."
Krystkowiak made approximately $3.7 million last season as one of the highest-paid coaches in the country, thanks to a contract extension in 2015. According to his latest contract, Krystkowiak is owed $3 million for each season remaining on his contract — he had two more seasons left on his contract.
Krystkowiak, a Montana native, joined Utah on April 3, 2011, ahead of Utah's first season in the Pac-12. In his first season with the program, the team won only six games as they acclimated to a new coach and new conference. Krystkowiak leaves the program with a 183-139 record as head coach.
In 2019, the NCAA sanctioned Utah for a self-reported recruiting violation, which led to a two-game suspension for Krystkowiak and the removal of the "coach in waiting" agreement between associate head coach Tommy Connor, among other sanctions. Connor was expected to replace Krystkowiak, but it's unknown whether Utah would consider him for the position moving forward following the 2019 sanctions.
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein was the first to report the news and other national journalists corroborated the report, including Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish.