Ross will coach tight ends at Oregon State as a graduate assistant after his program at Western Washington was disbanded

CORVALLIS, Ore. — When Western Washington disbanded its football program in January, head coach Robin Ross followed the necessary protocol for a distasteful job.

“Get the players placed, get the coaches placed, and then myself, in that order,” he says. “I was there a long time by myself at the end.”

Ross counted eight Western players who he says received full scholarships elsewhere. Six coaches moved to other college jobs, while two “will probably coach high school football [in 2009] and then look for college jobs next year.”

Ross attended a handful of Oregon State spring practices, and when OSU coach Mike Riley needed a graduate assistant to coach tight ends, he tapped Ross, a 1977 Washington State grad. A settlement Ross reached in June with Western Washington will shore up the salary gap.

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Ross will maintain an affinity for Bellingham — he has owned a home there through several coaching moves since 1994 — and hopes football can be revived at Western.

“It’s tragic,” he says. “It took away so many opportunities for kids in the state to play football. I think the community and the school will find out what they’re missing.

“The program’s been around for over a hundred years, so there’s nobody in Whatcom County that hasn’t grown up with Western football.”