Central Washington University Athletics Director Dennis Francois has announced the hiring of Brandon Rinta as head coach of the Wildcats’ men’s basketball program.
“We are extremely excited to have Coach Rinta join the Wildcat family and lead our men’s basketball program,” Francois said. “He has experienced a high level of success wherever he has been and I am confident he will continue the legacy of athletic excellence that Leo and Dean Nicholson started 80-plus years ago at Central.”
Rinta, a CWU alumnus, has spent the last seven seasons as the head coach at Lewis-Clark State College where he compiled a 164-62 record, which is the highest winning percentage by a LC coach in the past 50 years. Rinta becomes CWU’s 14th head coach in its 116-year history and just the fifth in the past 88 years.
“This is a special opportunity for me to come back to the school that I played for and be a part of the Central Washington men’s basketball legacy for a second time. My time at Central was some of the best years of my life and I don’t feel I could have chosen a better college basketball program to play for, especially from the standpoint of going on to be a college coach,” Rinta said. “Over the last 50 years the CWU basketball family has created a large network of coaches and I am proud to be associated with that group.”
Rinta led the Warriors to three Frontier Conference regular season championships and a pair of conference tournament titles. The Warriors earned five National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Tournament berths and enjoyed the second-most wins in school history in 2016 going 29-5. The Warriors earned a national rank of third, which was the highest in school history as Rinta was named Frontier Conference Coach of the Year.
In 2013, the Warriors started the season 18-0 and Rinta won the Don Meyer NAIA National Coach of the Year award.
Prior to Lewis-Clark State, Rinta spent five seasons at Great Northwest Athletic Conference member Northwest Nazarene as Associate Head Coach under Tim Hills. While at NNU, the Nighthawks enjoyed the most wins since joining the NCAA and earned its first-ever ranking in the NCAA Division II West Regional Poll.
From 2001-06, he was an assistant coach at Eastern Washington University where he teamed up with former Wildcat Mike Burns in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles played in three-straight Big Sky Championship games with a 2003 appearance in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), followed by a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2004.
The Chehalis, Wash. native prepped at W.F. West High School and began his college career at Yakima Valley Community College where he played for legendary CWU coach Dean Nicholson, earning All-NWAACC honors averaging 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Rinta competed at Central Washington from 1999-01 where he averaged 8.4 points and 4.0 rebounds to help guide the Wildcats to a 39-17 record with a PacWest Conference Title and a NCAA Division II West Regional berth.
In 2001, he earned a bachelor’s degree in health fitness education at CWU, and a masters in Athletic Administration from Eastern Washington in 2003.
Joining Rinta on his path back to Ellensburg are his wife Deanna, their daughter Kendall (7) and son Shea (5).