It's almost as if Larry Krystkowiak knew what was coming.
Following Utah's season-ending loss in the Pac-12 quarterfinals last Thursday, a 91-86 double overtime defeat to USC, Krystkowiak was uncommonly emotional during certain moments of his postgame press conference.
He choked up multiple times and had to pause to regain composure, moments that were out of character for a man who can best be described as stoic and intense.
“I think we all know how much hardship that everybody has gone through this year, certainly,” Krystkowiak said following the loss. “Not just our team, but the world.”
It's as if those moments and that quote were foreshadowing what took place less than 24 hours ago.
Utah athletic director Mark Harlan released a statement on Tuesday evening stating that he was relieving Krystkowiak of his duties as head basketball coach.
“Today, I informed Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Krystkowiak that I am making a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program. 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. 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.
“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. 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.”
While many fans are unhappy with what has taken place within the program the past couple of seasons, which includes no NCAA tournament berths and multiple players transferring out of the program, Krystkowiak's run over the past decade is impressive.
He took a program that was at the time atrocious and turned into a respectable one that's on the verge of breaking through into the upper echelon of the Pac-12 and NCAA tournament consistently.
Krystkowiak led Utah into the Pac-12, going 6-25 overall and 3-15 in conference play in the 2011-12 season.
Two years later was the initial breakthrough when Utah went 21-12 overall and 9-9 in Pac-12 play. The Utes advanced to the NIT, there first time making a postseason tournament under Krystkowiak.
The team reached its peak with Krystkowiak during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons when they went a combined 53-18 overall, finishing 13-5 and second in the Pac-12 in both seasons.
Led by Kyle Kuzma, Jacob Poetel and Delon Wright — three players currently in the NBA — the Utes advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2015 before being bounced out in the second round during the 2016 season.
But Utah has been on a slow decline since those seasons, appearing in the NIT in 2017 and 2018 before being shutout of the postseason altogether the past three seasons.
Krystkowiak will end his tenure at Utah with a 183-139 record and 91-90 Pac-12 record.
The search to find his replacement will begin immediately, according to Harlan.
“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,” Harlan said.