Washington State athletic director Bill Moos ended the tenure of men’s basketball coach Ken Bone on Tuesday morning, firing him with two years left on a seven-year contract.
Bone finished with an 80-86 record, 29-61 in Pac-12 games. This season, the Cougars averaged 2,800 fans, a drop of 4,523 from Bone’s first year in 2009-10, when WSU was coming off two straight NCAA appearances and an NIT berth under coach Tony Bennett.
The 2,800-fan average is 1,300 lower than any other Pac-12 school, and 4,716 below the league average of 7,516.
At midday, WSU confirmed media reports that Bone had been fired.
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“Ken and I met earlier today,” the school quoted Moos. “At that meeting I informed him I would be making a change in the direction of the program. I appreciate what Ken has done for Cougar basketball, leading us to the postseason twice in the last four years, and I thanked him for his service to WSU. But at this point we need to revitalize our fan base, particularly our student body, and position this program to compete for championships.”
Bone, a longtime coach at Seattle Pacific and later an assistant to Lorenzo Romar at Washington, will apparently be owed $1.7 million. He was signed to a contract worth a guaranteed $850,000 in years three through seven by former athletic director Jim Sterk in 2009.
Bone inherited future NBA lottery pick Klay Thompson from Bennett, and in 2011, made a run at the NCAA tournament. But that fell short and the Cougars ended up in the National Invitation Tournament, losing in New York after playing three home games.
WSU finished last or tied for it twice in Bone’s five years, and only a surprise victory over UCLA on the last day of the regular season kept the Cougars out of a tie for the cellar this year at 3-15.
Moos said he would try to name a successor as soon as possible.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org