Ernie Kent, 59, who led Oregon to two Elite Eight appearances before his firing by the Ducks in 2010, was named as the new Washington State head basketball coach Monday, replacing the fired Ken Bone. WSU confirmed the hire.
Kent has been associate executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches since September, and also did TV analysis for the Pac-12 Networks. He last coached with Oregon in 2009-10, his final two teams combining for a Pac-12 record of 9-27. The two Elite Eight runs were in 2002 and 2007.
WSU also interviewed Boise State coach Leon Rice last week and is believed to have offered him the job. Rice pulled out of the search late Friday and his BSU contract was enhanced.
When he fired Bone March 18 after the former Seattle Pacific and Portland State head coach went 80-86 in five years, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos talked briefly about Kent. Moos was Kent’s boss during much of Kent’s 13-year Oregon tenure.
Referring to ancient McArthur Court, Moos said: “He had to recruit to what I can safely say was a rathole, and somehow he managed to win and go to two Elite Eights. I use Ernie as an example that it can happen, just like you can use (former WSU football coach) Mike Price as an example that it can happen.”
At Oregon, Kent went to five NCAA tournaments. He finished with a 235-174 record there, 109-125 in the Pac-10.
Prior to Oregon, Kent spent six years at St. Mary’s and compiled a 90-80 record, 40-44 in the West Coast Conference.
Much of Kent’s success at Oregon arose from the recruitment of two state-of-Washington point guards—Luke Ridnour of Blaine and Aaron Brooks of Franklin, each of whom keyed those Elite Eight teams. Ridnour was the point for the 26-9 Oregon team of 2002 that won the Pac-10 regular-season title, and Brooks led the 2007 team to the Pac-10 tournament championship and a 29-8 record.