LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- UCLA football coach Bob Toledo was fired as coach of the Bruins on Monday.
The move came one day after the school accepted a bid to play New Mexico in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day.
"This was an extremely hard decision to make but one I felt was necessary for the future of the program," Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said. "That being sad, I believe that in order to revitalize our program and move it forward, a change of leadership is required."
UCLA is 7-5, but saw its defense fall apart in its final two games, losing 52-21 to USC on Nov. 23 and 48-27 to Washington State on Saturday.
Ed Kezirian, currently the director of academic services and an assistant coach from 1982 to 1992, was named interim head coach while a search for a permanent replacement begins.
Toledo will not coach for the Las Vegas Bowl as the game plan will be developed by the coordinators and current staff members.
UCLA has played the second half of the season without injured quarterback Cory Paus, forcing Toledo to use freshman Drew Olson and Matt Moore.
Toledo has six years left on a contract. The contract buyout consists of one year of the full package of $578,000 and five years at a base salary of $153,000.
UCLA won its first six games in 2001, but a late-season collapse that included four straight losses put him on the hot seat entering 2002.
The program also endured several off-the-field problems, including a drunken driving conviction of Paus.
"The circumstances over the past four years, both on and off the field, created an environment that, in my opinion, hindered long-term success," Guerrero said.
In seven years at UCLA, Toledo is 49-32, including a school-record 20-game winning streak in 1997 and 1998. But he has just a .500 record in his last 48 games.
The 56-year-old Toledo came to UCLA as offensive coordinator in 1994 and was hired to replace Terry Donahue two years later.
Hammond reportedly has 2-year Yankee deal
NEW YORK, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees reportedly have filled a void in the bullpen by agreeing to a two-year contract with lefthander Chris Hammond.
The New York Daily News reported Monday that "the parameters have been worked out" on a deal worth $4.8 million.
The Yankees are in search of a lefthanded setup man after not offering arbitration to Mike Stanton. New York would instead use Hammond, who posted a major league-leading 0.95 ERA in 63 appearances for the Atlanta Braves last season. He became just the third pitcher since 1900 to post a sub-1.00 ERA while exceeding 70 innings.
The 37-year-old Hammond was out of baseball in 1999 and 2000, pitched in the minors in 2001 and had a 4.54 career ERA before his big performance last season. He had a 7-2 record last season.
Former Texas Western star dead at 59
EL PASO, Texas, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Bobby Joe Hill, the catalyst of Texas Western's historic national championship team in 1966, died Sunday night at age 59.
The cause of death is unknown.
Hill was a starting guard and scored 20 points in Texas Western's 72-65 win over top-ranked Kentucky in the 1966 national championship game. In that contest, Texas Western's Don Haskins became the first coach to start five black players in the championship game. In contrast, Kentucky was comprised of all white players.
To this day, Texas Western, which later changed its school name to Texas El-Paso, remains the only Division I school in the state to capture a national championship in men's basketball.
Hill averaged a team-leading 15 points per game in that championship season and was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team after averaging 20.2 points in five NCAA Tournament games.
Stars place Dahlen, Muller on IR
VALLEY RANCH, Texas, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The Dallas Stars on Monday placed right wing Ulf Dahlen and left wing Kirk Muller on injured reserve.
Dahlen, 35, suffered a high ankle sprain on Friday and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. A checking forward, Dahlen has registered 10 goals and eight assists in 28 games this season.
Muller, 35, was placed on IR, retroactive to Nov. 30, with a fractured rib. Like Dahlen, Muller also will be re-evaluated in two weeks. In 20 games this season, Muller has tallied just one goal and an assist.
The Stars, who lead the Western Conference with 39 points, filled one of the roster spots by recalling right wing Jon Sim from Utah of the Amercian Hockey League. Sim had nine goals and 18 assists in 27 games with Utah this season.49ers earn playoff spot
IRVING, Texas, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The San Francisco 49ers joined the playoff parade Sunday and Cleveland improved its post-season chances in extra-dramatic fashion.
San Francisco captured the NFC West division title by rallying for a 31-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, joining the Green Bay Packers as the only teams to secure a playoff berth with three weeks left in the season.
The six post-season spots in the NFC are all but decided, however, with Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans and Philadelphia likely to join the Packers and 49ers.
In the AFC, however, things are a long way from being settled.
Oakland took a one-game lead in the West Sunday by virtue of its 27-7 decision over San Diego and Tennessee gained control of the tiebreak advantage in the South thanks to a 27-17 victory over Indianapolis.
New England's 27-17 win over Buffalo put the Patriots a half game in front of Miami in the East pending the Dolphins game Monday night against Chicago. And Pittsburgh clung to a half-game lead over Cleveland in the North despite a freakish loss to the Texans.
Cleveland inched closer to the division lead when quarterback Tim Couch threw a 50-yard "Hail Mary" touchdown to Quincy Morgan with no time remaining to lift Cleveland to an improbable 21-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In the NFC, Tampa Bay shut down Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick to move 1 1/2 games in front in the South with a 34-10 victory. And Philadelphia stayed three games ahead in the East by defeating Seattle, 27-20.