According to ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel, the Los Angeles Sparks have decided to relieve head coach Carol Ross of her duties. Ross signed a multi-year extension with the team in December before a Paula Madison-led ownership group renounced ownership of the team. General Manager and Executive Vice President is reportedly going to take over head coaching duties.
Sparks make it official: Carol Ross fired; GM Penny Toler new head coach. Gary Kloppenburg stays; Steve Smith returns as other assistant.— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) July 21, 2014
There was some speculation early that after Gail Goestenkoers and Gary Kloppenburg were named assistant coaches that Ross' job may be in jeopardy; their struggles to start the season, even sitting in the cellar for a stretch before picking it up heading into the All-Star break, didn't help.
The Sparks currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference with a record of 10-12. Nneka Ogwumike just completed stints as All-Stars representing the Sparks. After finding themselves at the bottom of the conference for a stretch before picking it up with a three-game winning that was ended by a loss to the middling Washington Mystics heading into the break for all-star. That seems to have been the final nail in the coffin.
UPDATE: In an official release from the Sparks' website, it appears that assistant Gail Goestenkoers is not returning as well as former Sparks assistant Steve Smith will replace her.