Washington State Fires Basketball Coach Ken Bone - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington State Fires Basketball Coach Ken Bone

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by WSUCougars.com

PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University Director of Athletics Bill Moos announced Tuesday that men's head basketball coach Ken Bone will not return to guide the Cougars next season.  

"Ken and I met earlier today," said Moos. "At that meeting I informed him I would be making a change in the direction of the program. I appreciate what Ken has done for Cougar Basketball, leading us to the postseason twice in the last four years, and I thanked him for his service to WSU. But at this point we need to revitalize our fan base, particularly our student body, and position this program to compete for championships."

Bone, who Thursday completed his fifth year at WSU, compiled an 80-86 record, including a 10-21 mark this past season. He guided the Cougars to the 2011 NIT Semifinals and the 2012 CBI Finals, and leaves Washington State sixth on the all-time coaching wins list. 

Bone was hired in April, 2009, replacing Tony Bennett. Bone had two years remaining on his original seven-year contract signed under then-athletic director Jim Sterk. Bone arrived at WSU having spent the previous four years as head coach at Portland State, where he led the Vikings to a 77-49 record and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2008 and 2009. 

"We will begin the process of naming the next head coach immediately," said Moos. "I will not be discussing details of the hiring process, only that I expect to name the new coach as soon as possible."

More from Bill Moos

On Ken Bone:

I've got to say that I've felt all along that Ken (Bone) was a good coach, and certainly a great guy, but it just wasn't working," Moos said. "The record reflects that , certainly the attendance at our home games reflects it, and I felt that it was time to find new leadership and go a different direction."

"I started to come to that conclusion about the last third of the season," Moos said. "We were struggling and the attendance was as low as I've ever seen it. Not only here, but at any Pac-12 venue."

"In the sport of men's basketball its all about recruiting and having good, good players," Moos said. "Here were going into a field of 68 at the big dance [NCAA Tournament], and there's a heck of a lot more teams that are in that because of good players as opposed to good coaches. You get the combination of having both and you're going to find yourself going to the Sweet 16. I think one of the areas that wasn't really up to expectations was in the area of recruiting."

On Replacing Bone: On Ken Bone:

"I wouldn't call them finalist," Moos said. "I always have a short list and am already in the process of talking to those people, just to gauge the interest."

"I think we really need to have someone that is a good quality coach and has coached at obviously this level, preferably a head coach," Moos said. "Someone who can recruit and can sell Washington State and the community of Pullman to prospects. Someone who has flash, who has excitement."

On Ernie Kent and Ben Howland:

"Well, Ernie [Kent] has proven during our time together at Oregon, that he can do all of the things I am talking about," Moos said. "Now it may be a bit different because Oregon was Ernie's alma mater and he was a hero there as a part of the Kamikaze Kids. But he had to recruit to what I can safely say was a rat-hole of a gym that he had to share with three other programs. Somehow he managed to win an outright Pac-10, at the time, Championship and two tournament championships and go to two Elite Eight's and five trips to the NCAA [Tournament]."    

"Somebody like Ernie [Kent] that would have a passion for Washington State, like he did for the University of Oregon, would be someone I'd be interested in," Moos said.

Hiring Ernie Kent: "I don't know," Moos said. "If he shows an interest, I'd be happy to talk to Ernie [Kent] if he had interest in the job, but more importantly would expect to talk to him about people. He's been active in the game and very active in the coaches association. He has a lot of names. He knows people out there that maybe I don't have on my list. For sure I'll talk to Ernie about that, I'll talk to other good friends I have in the profession, Ben Howland for example would be a great resource for me to kind of get a feel for who's out there that might be a good fit here."

Hiring Ben Howland: "If they came to my door and knocked on it and said, 'I want to be your head coach,' I'd probably have to listen," Moos said.  But I'm under the assumption that Ben, if he gets back into it is probably going to, and deserves, to go to a program that hasn't got the re-building requirements that this one has at this particular time. " 

On luring Kent out of broadcasting: "I don't know, I think he's good at it," Moos said. "I watched him during the (Pac-12) Tournament and thought he was outstanding." 

On Other Candidates: 

"My list is currently all head coaches," Moos said. "There are some assistants out there that could be appealing. But I tend to like to go with a proven commodity, and its different being an assistant than it is a head coach. Ideally, I like a head coach that has come up the ranks, not always had the silver spoon, and know's what it's like to get on the bus and travel eight hours, and share a secretary and all that. My record in hiring coaches, if you look back, almost all of them including Mike Leach have had those spaghetti years as a head coach and I admire that."

"Leon Rice is doing a great job at Boise State," Moos said. I know that Leon is an alum. He's going to get some looks and he deserves that. He's done a nice job at Boise State and I think he was a big part of the success at Gonzaga."