Riley named Head Basketball Coach at Washington State

Washington State University Interim Director of Athletics Anne McCoy announced Tuesday that David Riley has been named the 20th men’s basketball coach in Washington State history. Riley, the back-to-back Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, agreed to a six-year contract and will be formally introduced at a press conference Thursday, April 4. Details of the press conference will be released Wednesday.

“We are thrilled to have David Riley leading our men’s basketball program as we look to build on this season’s success,” said McCoy. “Throughout the process, Dave’s coaching acumen was evident as was his ability to create a winning culture. In just three seasons, he has emphasized player development through a fast-paced, high powered offense that allows his student-athletes to play free and confidently.

“We’re excited to begin the David Riley-era at Washington State and welcome he and Emily to the Cougar family,” McCoy added.

In his three seasons guiding Eastern Washington, Riley has amassed a 62-38 (.600) overall record, with back-to-back Big Sky regular season titles and conference Coach of the Year honors the past two years.

“I am incredibly grateful to President Schulz, Interim Athletic Director Anne McCoy and the athletic department leadership team for allowing me the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program. WSU is a dream job and embodies everything that college athletics is about,” said Riley. “I’m excited to build on the foundation that has been laid here. We look forward to recruiting and retaining student athletes who want to be here and understand how special it is on the Palouse. I can’t wait to get to work for the best fan base in the state, Go Cougs!”

In 2023-24, Riley led EWU to a 21-11 record, 15-3 in conference play en route to its second-straight Big Sky regular-season title. It marked the Eagles’ second-consecutive 20-win season, the first time in six years that has occurred. With his second-straight Big Sky Coach of the Year honor following the season, he became the first Big Sky coach to pick up back-to-back Coach of the Year Awards since Wayne Tinkle did so for Montana in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Eastern led the conference in seven offensive categories this season, adding to his reputation as one of the top young offensive minds in the country. The Eagles ranked third nationally in effective field goal percentage (57.8), fourth in total field goal percentage (50.1) and 13th in the country with 17.6 assists per game.

Riley began his 13-year run on the EWU men’s basketball staff prior to the 2011-12 season as a graduate assistant and steadily climbed the ranks, ultimately becoming the Eagles’ head coach ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Riley earned Big Sky Coach of the Year honors in 2022-23 as the Eagles set program and conference records with an 18-game winning streak and 16-0 start to conference play. They earned a bid to the 2023 National Invitation Tournament (NIT), where they secured the second postseason win in program history and narrowly missed a second-round win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Eagles went 18-16 (11-9) in Riley’s first year as he was a finalist for the Joe B. Hall Award for the top first-year head coach in NCAA Division I basketball.

Prior to being named head coach, Riley served on Jim Hayford’s staff for six seasons (2011-17), the first three as director of basketball operations followed by three years as an assistant coach from 2011-17, then spent four years as an assistant coach for Shantay Legans from 2017-21.

Riley attended Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., earning First Team All-NWC honors in his final three seasons while starting 112 of 114 games in his career. He finished with 1,664 points (14.6 per game) to rank fourth in Whitworth history. As a senior, he averaged 16.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, earning Third Team All-Region ( honors. That season, the Pirates finished 28-2 and advanced to the Elite Eight of the D-III Tournament for the first time in school history. The Pirates competed in the D-III tournament every year during his career.

Riley has tremendous coaching pedigree as his uncle, Mike Riley, grew up in Wallace, Idaho, and went on to a successful football coaching career in the NFL and college ranks, while his grandfather, Bud Riley, was also an assistant football coach in the Canadian Football League and the collegiate ranks. 

Riley graduated from Whitworth in 2011 with a degree in mathematical economics and earned a master’s degree in physical education (sport administration) from Eastern Washington in 2013. Born in 1988, Riley was the 4th-youngest head coach in Division-I men’s basketball entering the 2023-24 season. He and his wife, Emily, were married in 2018.