Kevin McGuff, who has coached the Washington Huskies for two seasons, is leaving to become the head coach at Ohio State.
Washington women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff accepted a similar position at Ohio State on Tuesday, both schools announced. As part of McGuff’s contract with UW, he owes the school a $1.75 million buyout.
McGuff, who coached two seasons at Washington, will replace Jim Foster at Ohio State. Foster, 64, was fired in March after winning 279 games and six Big Ten titles for the Buckeyes. Ohio State did not advance to the NCAA tournament this season for the first time in 11 years, finishing 18-13.
Foster will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June.
McGuff’s decision came after he signed a contract extension through the 2019-20 season in March. He originally signed a five-year deal with Washington worth $475,000 annually plus incentives, making McGuff the highest-paid coach in program history. He was also UW’s first male women’s basketball coach.
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“We thought we had locked Coach down with a contract extension we did less than a month ago and felt real good about it,” athletic director Scott Woodward said of McGuff’s extension, signed a week after Foster was fired. “We were a little surprised, but I wouldn’t say shocked.”
The Huskies’ 2012-13 season ended with a second-round loss in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The Huskies finished 21-12 for the program’s first back-to-back 20-win seasons since the mid-1990s. They were 20-14 in McGuff’s first season, losing in the WNIT quarterfinals.
Washington’s 11 wins in the Pac-12 this season were the most since 2006-07. The Huskies were picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll of conference coaches, but finished fifth. They lost to Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
McGuff recruited the program’s first McDonald’s All-Americans, forward Katie Collier and point guard Kelsey Plum, who will join UW next season. Collier, from Seattle Christian, redshirted this season because of a knee injury. Plum, a high-school senior at La Jolla Country Day near San Diego, is also a Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association All-American.
McGuff was unavailable for comment. A source familiar with the move said he’ll make at least $1 million annually and OSU will cover the buyout as part of his new contract.
Aside from pay, however, the position was intriguing because a majority of McGuff’s family still lives in the state. His wife, Letitia, is from Michigan and gave birth to the couple’s sixth child on April 3.
“It wouldn’t be the first time I took things too far,” McGuff, 43, joked at a UW news conference recently when asked about his growing family. All the children are under age 11, and the couple expressed strain in raising their family away from relatives.
“This is an amazing opportunity for my family and me to come back to the state of Ohio,” McGuff, who was born in Hamilton, said in a released statement. “I know how special of a place this is, and my goal is to have Ohio State competing at the highest level.”
McGuff began his head-coaching career at Xavier in Cincinnati, leading the Musketeers to the NCAA tournament Elite Eight in 2010. McGuff said he wanted to challenge himself at a bigger school when he left Xavier.
At Washington, McGuff quickly signed talented recruits. In addition to Plum, McGuff signed post player Chantel Osahor and guard Brianna Ruiz for next season. The school isn’t expected to announce any more signings for the 2013-14 season. It’s uncertain if players will request a transfer, however. Student-athletes must wait until a new coach is hired before a request can be made. If granted, current players will miss a year of eligibility, per NCAA rules.
“Kevin leaves the program in great shape and we will begin a nationwide search for his successor immediately,” Woodward said.
McGuff’s departure is the third coaching change in six years for UW. Longtime coach June Daugherty was fired in 2007. Her replacement, Tia Jackson, was fired in 2011 after the program experienced its first stint of four consecutive losing seasons.
• UW senior Kristi Kingma underwent successful left knee surgery on April 11. Kingma was advised by her doctor not to continue playing basketball once rehabilitated. She graduated with a degree in communications in 2012.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans