PULLMAN – The Washington State volleyball coach who resigned last week did so to take an assistant coaching job at Wisconsin.
Brian Heffernan spent four years at WSU and registered a 39-87 record. The Cougars finished last in the Pac-10 this past season, and ninth the three prior years.
“Over the past four years, with the program,” WSU athletics director Jim Sterk said, “we were at a point where we’re not extending his contract, so he had one year left.”
He said WSU decided in December to let Heffernan stay with the volleyball team and finish his contract.
“But I think he felt it was impacting negatively with recruiting and that whole deal, (so) he would be ineffective his last year,” Sterk said.
Heffernan did not return voice messages left at his home in Pullman.
Wisconsin announced Heffernan’s hiring on Friday, though his name appeared on the university’s volleyball Web site before the announcement. His first official day is March 5, said Wisconsin athletics spokeswoman Diane Nordstrom.
The university posted the job opening in mid-January and conducted interviews over the past three weeks, she said.
“Part of it on our end is that (Heffernan) is a former assistant coach at the Univeristy of Minnesota,” Nordstrom said. “So he has experience around the Big 10 in coaching and recruiting.”
Heffernan’s 11-month contract at Wisconsin guarantees him a salary of $55,000 plus incentives, said Nancy Graff Schultz, human resources manager at Wisconsin. Heffernan’s salary at Washington State was not available.
WSU assistant media relations director Linda Chalich said Heffernan will not receive any more pay from WSU because he broke his contract. She made clear that Heffernan was not forced out of Washington State, but chose to leave.
“Somebody who’s forced out gets fired,” Chalich said, “and it’s advantageous to get fired because you get compensated.”
Now, Washington State will start its own national search for a coach.
“Sometimes it can take three weeks to a month,” Chalich said. “Sometimes it takes eight months to 90 days. When they find the best candidate, they’ll hire him.”
“We want to bring someone in who can bring volleyball back to an excellent level,” Sterk said, “where we are competing in the Pac-10 and competing nationally. That’s all.”