Cal Poly

Cal Poly men’s basketball coach fired after historically bad season

Cal Poly head basketball coach Joe Callero.
Cal Poly head basketball coach Joe Callero.

Cal Poly men’s basketball head coach Joe Callero “will not be retained” at season’s end, the university announced Wednesday.

Callero has coached the program for 10 years, leading the team to its first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance in 2014.

Callero also helped guard David Nwaba become the first Cal Poly player to make the NBA. Nwaba, who played three seasons at Cal Poly, is now a third-year player with the Cleveland Cavaliers after stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls and advancing through the NBA Development League.

But Cal Poly has struggled the past few years. The Mustangs are last in the Big West Conference with a 2-12 record, 6-21 overall, this year, their sixth straight losing season. Cal Poly is also guaranteed its worst overall record since the 1994-95 team went 1-26.

“I’d like to thank Joe Callero for his 10 years of dedicated service to our university,” Athletic Director Don Oberhelman said in a school news release. “Joe embraced the academic rigors of Cal Poly and worked very hard to give every one of his students the chance to graduate.”

Oberhelman was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Callero also was not immediately available. The school said a national search will begin immediately for his replacement.

Callero will coach Cal Poly’s final two home games, Thursday against UC Irvine and Saturday against rival UC Santa Barbara.

Callero, the highest paid athletic coach at Cal Poly, earned a salary of about $268,000 in 2018, according to the Sacramento Bee salary database. And his contract was set to expire after the 2019-2020 season.

Information on whether Callero will be paid for the remainder of his contract was also unavailable Wednesday.

Cal Poly has produced 13 All-Big West selections under Callero.

In 2014, Chris Eversley became the first Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player selection in program history.

Callero was head coach at Seattle for eight seasons prior to being hired at Cal Poly in 2009 and served as an assistant coach at USC.

Since taking the job in 2009, Callero coached two teams to above .500 records and has a winning percentage of .409 (126-182).

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.