Bill Moos talks future of WSU basketball


WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos speaks about his time at WSU during a Dec. 2, 2013 interview. 

Though the WSU men’s basketball team will not be competing in the postseason this year, the team did get a glimpse of what March Madness has to offer.

However, the madness happened off the court this morning when WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos fired men’s basketball Head Coach Ken Bone.

 “Ken was a good head coach, certainly a great guy, but it just wasn’t working,” Moos said in a teleconference. “The record reflects that, certainly the attendance at our home games reflects it and I felt that it’s time to find new leadership and go in a new direction.”

Bone was the WSU men’s head basketball coach for the last five seasons and finished with a coaching record of 80-86. The Cougars finished the 2013-2014 basketball season with a 10-21, (3-15 in conference) record and a first round loss in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Moos said it was the last third of the 2013-2014 basketball season where he made up his mind it was unlikely Bone was going to return next season.

“We were struggling and the attendance was as low as I’ve ever seen it not only here (at WSU), but in any Pac-12 venue,” Moos said.

The WSU athletic director also touched on how important it is to recruit in men’s college basketball and believed Bone did not get the job done in that area.

Moos said he has a short list of coaches on his radar to replace Bone, preferably head coaches and will start to reach out to them now that Bone has been let go.

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

Former Oregon men’s head basketball coach Ernie Kent was discussed as a possible candidate for the job. When Moos was the athletic director at Oregon, Kent was the men’s basketball head coach.

“Ernie has proven during our time together at Oregon, that he can do all the things that I am talking about,” Moos said. “He had to recruit to what I can say was a rat hole, the gym (at Oregon) that he had to share with three other programs and somehow he managed to win an outright Pac-10 at the time championship and two tournament championships, two elite eight appearances and five trips to the NCAA tournament.”

Kent is a current broadcaster for the Pac-12 Networks. Moos said if Kent wants the job as the next WSU men’s head basketball coach, he’ll listen to the former Oregon coach’s case. Moos said he’ll still reach out to Kent in order get a better understanding of what other possible coaching candidates are out there.

Former UCLA men’s head basketball coach Ben Howland is another coach on Moos’ list. Moos expects to contact his friend Howland for guidance instead of asking him to coach at WSU. Moos said he anticipates Howland choosing a program that isn’t currently in a rebuilding stage.

Current Boise State men’s basketball Head Coach Leon Rice was another coach brought up as a possible candidate for the job.

“He’s going to get some looks,” Moos said. “He deserves that, he’s done a nice job at Boise State and I really think was a big part of the success at Gonzaga.”

Rice graduated from WSU in 1986 and was an assistant at Gonzaga for 12 seasons before taking the men’s basketball head coaching job in 2010.

Though head coaches are the favorite on Moos’ list to fill Bone’s now vacant seat, he didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing on an assistant head coach.

“There are some assistants out there that could be appealing,” Moos said. “I tend to like to go with a proven commodity and it’s different being an assistant than a head coach. Ideally I like a head coach that has come up through the ranks, not always had the silver spoon, knows what it’s like to get on the bus and travel eight hours.”

Bone is due $1.7 million over the next two years, but Moos said that won’t cause him to be shy in regards to salary when in pursuit of a new coach.

Moos denounced the idea WSU’s facilities would deter potential coaching prospects.  

“We’ve got a fabulous, refurbished basketball practice facility that both our men and women utilize,” Moos said. “We’re in the process of continuing to put a face lift on Beasley (Coliseum) and I think the center video board, a lot of the branding done in there, I think we need to address locker rooms and that’s all on our list and all doable.”

According to Moos WSU assistant head coach Curtis Allen is currently the WSU interim head coach. Moos stressed how important it is for Allen to calm down the current WSU men’s basketball players and convince them to stay with the program.

In anticipation of the varying reactions from the current WSU basketball players, Moos named Curtis Allen, assistant head coach under Bone, the interim head coach and placed upon him the responsibility of keeping the players cool in this tough time. Allen is also in charge of contacting recruit.

Two players have signed their national letter of intent to play basketball at WSU next season. Tramaine Isabell, a 6-foot point guard out of Seattle, said he is still a Cougar but will sit down with his family to discuss his future.

Power forward Jermaine Morgan told he is unsure of what he will do going forward. LOIs are binding agreements but typically a university will void the contract under circumstances such as a coaching change.

“I got a variety of feelings on those and I have to apply it on a case by case basis,” Moos said about the possibility of letting a recruit back out after signing his letter of intent.

Another stigma Moos shot down immediately was the notion it’s impossible to establish a winning culture at WSU.

            “Yes I think we can win here, we can compete year in and year out and have those moments where we can have a chance to win a championship either out-right or a Pac-12 Tournament championship,” Moos said. “I think we certainly can be in the postseason three out five years, I think those things are all doable, it’s just going to take the right person who has a passion for the game and has a passion for Washington State and can recruit.”