WSU Nears Decision On Men's Basketball Coach

Lew WrightSenior Writer IApril 6, 2009

BOISE, ID - MARCH 20:  Head Coach Ken Bone of the Portland State Vikings looks on from the sideline during their game against the Xavier Musketeers in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Taco Bell Arena on March 20, 2009 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

A week ago today, Coach Nation was rocked by the news that beloved men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett was leaving Pullman for the greener pastures of Virginia.

Once the collective numbness began to ebb, anxious anticipation spread like a wildfire across the WSU landscape.

Athletic Director Jim Sterk has been a calming force throughout this process. He responded quickly to the concern of many posing the question, “What’s next?” In fact, Sterk spoke with complete confidence that a new coach would be named in as soon as a week, yet no longer than two weeks.

Given the adoration coach Bennett earned during his six years at WSU as an assistant and head coach, that brief a timeline seemed almost impossible.

No reason to doubt the word of Sterk.

Here we are seven days later, early Monday morning with caffeine coursing through the bloodstream, waiting and wondering.

Who will be the next men’s basketball coach at Washington State?

We do know one of the leading candidates for the job who won’t be the taking over.

Coach Stew Morrill of Utah State was high on the list of those being considered for the opening at WSU. And why not?

Coach Morrill has enjoyed a terrific run at Utah State for the past eleven seasons. His Aggies are 267-91 during his tenure. Morrill will likely pass the 500 career wins mark next season.

Speaking of next season, the athletic department at Utah State released a story to confirm coach Morrill will happily honor his current contract and remain in Logan, UT.

"I have not and will not pursue other coaching jobs," Morrill stated. "Washington State contacted me and I think it was understood all along that I have deep roots here and it would be very difficult for us to leave Utah State University, Cache Valley and the state of Utah." –Coach Stew Morrill

In an effort to enliven the conversation, many other “dark horse” candidates for the WSU job are surfacing.

When Sterk spoke to the media last Monday, one name came up immediately in connection with finding a replacement for coach Bennett. The Portland State head man, Ken Bone was singled out.

Returning from the Final Four site in Detroit, Sterk discussed the WSU job with both Bone and Morrill yesterday.

You do the math.

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