WSU

WSU hires David Riley away from EWU as basketball coach

Apr 2, 2024, 9:54 PM | Updated: Apr 3, 2024, 4:27 pm

WSU Cougars David Riley EWU basketball coach...

EWU men's basketball coach David Riley during a 2021 game. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

(AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

WSU hired David Riley as its basketball coach on Tuesday, nabbing the two-time Big Sky Conference coach of the year at a time of uncertainty for the Cougars.

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Riley will move down the Palouse highway after three successful seasons as the coach at Eastern Washington. He’ll take over a Washington State program coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 16 years, but with significant questions after the collapse of the Pac-12 Conference. The Cougars will play the next two years as affiliate members of the West Coast Conference, but have already seen key players enter the transfer portal.

Riley replaces Kyle Smith, who spent five years in Pullman before taking the head job at Stanford after the Cougars were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Iowa State.

Kyle Smith leaves WSU to be Stanford basketball coach

The 35-year-old Riley was 62-30 in his three seasons at Eastern Washington, including consecutive Big Sky regular-season titles. He agreed to a six-year contract with Washington State.

“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,” Washington State interim athletic director Anne McCoy said.

Washington State appeared to target Montana State coach Matt Logie to take over for Smith, but Logie opted to stay with the Bobcats following an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Riley then became the obvious choice, despite his youth. Riley played collegiately at Division III Whitworth and spent 13 seasons at Eastern Washington in a variety of roles, working his way up to the head job in 2021.

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Getting the chance at Washington State is a step up for Riley, but it comes with concerns about the future. Along with the unknows about Washington State’s conference affiliation in the future, the Cougars lost athletic director Pat Chun last week after he took the same role at rival Washington.

“WSU is a dream job and embodies everything that college athletics is about,” Riley said. “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.”

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