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March 31, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Washington State hires Ernie Kent

Ernie Kent will reportedly be the next men's basketball coach at Washington State. (AP Photo)

Ernie Kent will reportedly be the next men’s basketball coach at Washington State. (AP Photo)

Washington State hired Ernie Kent as its next men’s basketball coach.

In a statement released by the school, Kent said: “I’m looking forward to providing the kind of passion and leadership to help potential student-athletes understand how special WSU is. Getting back into coaching for me has meant finding the right program that matches up with my passion, my vision, my beliefs and my commitment; and I feel Washington State University fits all that criteria for me. Bill Moos has a vision and has created enormous energy around Cougar Athletics and I want to be a part of that. Now is the time.”

After firing Ken Bone two weeks ago, Washington State reportedly took a run at Boise State’s Leon Rice last week, but he declined.

Cougfan.com and CougCenter.com were two of the first websites to break the news about Kent.

In a statement released by the school, WSU athletic director Bill Moos said: “I am excited that Ernie will be the leader of our men’s basketball program. I have witnessed firsthand his many talents. He has proven that he can win championships in our conference. Together we saw tremendous success at his alma mater and I have every reason to expect to see the same at mine.”

Many believed Kent, 59, was one of the leading candidates because he had a successful working relationship at Oregon with WSU athletic director Bill Moos.

During a 13 -year career (1997-2010) at Oregon, Kent posted a 235-174 (.535) record. He was 109-125 (.466) in conference games. The Ducks made five NCAA tournament appearances. After two down years (8-23 and 16-16) he was released in 2010.

Before his time at Oregon, Kent was 90-80 (.529) during six years (1991-97) at St. Mary’s, which included one NCAA tournament appearance.

After being fired at Oregon, worked as a college basketball analyst for Fox Sports Net. He’s spent the last two seasons at the Pac-12 Networks.

Kent inherits a Washington State team that posted a 10-21 record and finished 11th in the Pac-12 with a 3-15 mark last season. The Cougars last trip to the NCAA tourney was 2008.

During Bone’s five-year tenure, fan apathy rose and attendance dipped. Kent talked about returning the Cougars to their heydays.

“As a player I saw the energetic environment that George Raveling’s teams created, as an assistant I witnessed Kelvin Sampson’s squads and saw the magic here and as a head coach I saw the excitement created by Tony Bennett,” Kent said. “When WSU is having success, Beasley Coliseum is one of the best environments in the West. The students are so passionate, I saw 5,000 of them out there ready to go during warm-ups, one of the few places I’ve ever witnessed that. When you’ve seen that arena full and the program was at its best and now you have the opportunity to lead that program and you understand the potential that exists, that is very special to me.”

Comments | More in Pac-12 news | Topics: Ernie Kent, Washington State


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