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Sparks fire Carol Ross; GM Penny Toler will coach team

Sparks relieve Carol Ross of coaching duties after team reaches All-Star break with a 10-12 record

The Sparks fired Carol Ross and named Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler as their new coach, the team announced Sunday.

Ross posted a 61-36 record during 2 1/2 seasons with the Sparks, who are in danger of missing the playoffs for only the second time in seven seasons. Heading into the second half of the season, the Sparks are fourth in the Western Conference with a 10-12 record.

Ross guided the Sparks to the conference semifinals last year following a 24-10 regular-season mark. In her 97 games with the team, she posted a .629 winning percentage.

“I’d like to thank Carol for her contributions to the Sparks organization, team and Los Angeles community,” said Toler in a news release. “Carol is a tremendous coach, but we felt it was time to bring in a different energy to this team. Decisions like this are never easy, and we wish Carol the best.”

Toler has served as the Sparks' general manager since 2000 but she has never had a head coaching role with the team. The longest tenured general manager in the WNBA, Toler played three seasons with the Sparks before retiring in 1999. She won two WNBA titles as general manager in 2001 and 2002.

Sparks assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg will remain with the team and Steve Smith, who last served as an assistant coach with the Sparks in 2010, will be joining Toler’s coaching staff.

Toler will make her coaching debut against the New York Liberty on Wednesday at Staples Center.

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