After 10 seasons at nearby Whitworth and another four at Eastern Washington University, Eagle head men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford isn’t ready to leave any time soon.
The reigning Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year has signed a new five-year agreement which will extend his contract at EWU through the 2019-20 season, Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves announced. The new five-year agreement will replace the contract Hayford signed a year ago before leading the Eagles to their best season as a member of NCAA Division I.
Hayford took over an Eastern team four years ago that had been to the Big Sky Conference Tournament just once in five seasons, but this past year took the Eagles to new heights. Eastern won the league’s regular season and tournament titles, and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history. Eastern had Division I program bests for wins overall (26), league victories (14), road record (11-6) and non-conference record (9-4).
“I want to give a special thanks to my staff and players who have given everything they have to turn the program around,” said Hayford. “I’m very appreciative of the support given to me and our program by Eastern’s president, Dr. Mary Cullinan, and the rest of the administration. I really enjoy working with Bill Chaves and we are grateful for his leadership of our department.”
“After such a historic season, college basketball took notice of what coach Hayford and his staff have built,” said Chaves. “This new agreement complements what our program accomplished last year with the hopes of keeping Jim in Cheney for the foreseeable future.”
Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in 1983, no Eastern coach has lasted longer than five years. Hayford, the head coach at nearby Whitworth for 10 seasons before arriving in Cheney, Wash., has now coached and lived in the Spokane area for 14 years with his wife, Robin, and children Jayme (20) and Joe (17).
“My family has called this area home for 14 years,” Hayford said. “We are blessed with so many great friends. This contract will take us through the next season of life — our kids going through college. Wow . . . time sure flies.”
With 66 victories overall and 39 league wins under Hayford, this is the best four-year stretch since 2000-04 when Eastern had 69 wins overall and 41 in the Big Sky. The triumphs in 2014-15 included victories over six different NCAA Division I conferences, including road wins at Indiana, San Francisco and Seattle. Eastern was ranked as high as 12th in the national mid-major poll, and as high as 50th in the RPI. The Eagles concluded its home schedule with a crowd of 4,621 against Montana to rank as the fourth-most in school history and the most in 15 years.
Hayford departs soon for a recruiting trip which will occupy most of his time in July.
“I am excited about recruiting the next era of Eagles who I get to coach during this contract,” he added.
Photo Courtesy Eastern Washington Athletics