Ernie Kent heads back to Pac-12 as Washington State head coach
Washington State has hired Ernie Kent as its new head coach, giving him another shot at leading a Pac-12 Conference program four years after he was let go by Oregon.
The Cougars made the announcement on Monday afternoon, after the sides agreed to a five-year contract. Kent is expected to be introduced at a news conference Wednesday.
Kent replaces Ken Bone, who was fired on March 18 after five seasons during which the Cougars were unable to match the success they had under his predecessor, Tony Bennett. Bone was 80-86 in his five seasons at Washington State and just 29-61 in the Pac-12, never making the NCAA tournament.
Kent was the coach at Oregon from 1997 to 2010. He took his alma mater to five NCAA tournaments, including two trips to the Elite Eight. He was hired there in 1997 by Bill Moos, who is now the athletic director at Washington State.
Kent has been out of coaching since he was fired by the Ducks after the 2010 season. He's worked as an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks since the conference launched the channel.
Kent was the winningest coach in Oregon history, going 235-173 overall. Prior to arriving in Eugene, Kent spent six seasons as the head coach at Saint Mary's (Calif.). He went to the NCAAs in his final season with the Gaels.
But it was at Oregon where Kent made a name for his program. The Ducks played fast and exciting. Kent was able to recruit some of the top players in the country to Eugene. When announcing Bone's firing earlier this month, Moos was asked about his former coach at Oregon and cited Kent's ability to produce a winner in a place like Eugene as a trait he would want in his next coach.
"Ernie has proven during our time together at Oregon that he can do all the things I'm talking about," Moos said on March 18.
Washington State did pursue Boise State coach Leon Rice, a Cougar alum. Rice eventually decided during the weekend to remain at Boise State after agreeing to a new contract with the Broncos that increased his salary to $596,573 for the 2015 season with increases in the future. It was unclear what Washington State might be offering as a salary, but the buyout on the final two years of Bone's contract paid him $1.7 million.