Fred Williams won’t return to Sparks, follows through with Auburn job

He hoped to stay. Instead, Fred Williams, the Sparks’ interim head coach, will fly south for the winter.

The Sparks announced Williams will follow through on a previously announced position as the associate head coach position at Auburn on Wednesday instead of staying on as the franchise’s full-time head coach. The announcement prompts a national search for the Sparks’ next head coach and general manager.

Williams’ job at Auburn was announced on May 4, 2022 but has been in limbo since he was promoted to interim head coach in June when Derek Fisher was fired. Had he not been tasked with leading the struggling team through the rest of the season, Williams would have started at Auburn in July.

The L.A. native said after the Sparks’ season-ending loss to Dallas on Sunday he wanted to become the team’s head coach but recognized the options he had between his hometown WNBA team and Auburn.

“I love this city, this is my hometown, being here in L.A., the people, the fans and I love coaching this team,” Williams said. “I love being a part of the Sparks family. … I feel a big part of this, and I know we can be better than what we have done this past season.”

The Sparks (13-23) missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year with Williams going 8-16 as the interim head coach. The team finished with nine losses in its last 10 games. Williams, who had WNBA head coaching experience with the Utah Starzz, Atlanta Dream and the Dallas Wings/Tulsa Shock, joined the Sparks as an assistant in 2019, the first season under Fisher.

“The Sparks would like to thank Coach Fred for his leadership and guidance over the past four seasons as both an assistant coach and as Interim Head Coach,” managing partner Eric Holoman said in a statement. “Fred has had an illustrious WNBA coaching career, and we know he will continue to make an impact on women’s basketball at Auburn.”

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