Chuck Cecil, a senior defensive analyst since 2017 and a former All-American defensive back for the Wildcats, has been promoted to defensive coordinator.
Arizona also fired linebackers coach John Rushing.
Yates was in his third season at Arizona and second on head coach Kevin Sumlin's staff. Arizona opened the season with a 45-38 loss at Hawaii, then showed improvement on defense during a four-game win streak. The unit has struggled since a 51-27 loss to Washington on Oct. 12. Arizona ranks 118th nationally in points allowed (35 PPG) and 119th in yards allowed (469.9 YPG).
Cecil, the 1987 Pac-12 defensive player of the year at Arizona, made a Pro Bowl with the Green Bay Packers before beginning to coach in 2001. He served as the Tennessee Titans' defensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010 and later shared coordinator responsibilities with the St. Louis Rams. Cecil coached defensive backs throughout a 15-year career in the NFL before returning to his alma mater in 2017.
Arizona returns to the field on Saturday, when it hosts Oregon State.