Eastern Washington University will introduce Jim Hayford as its new men’s basketball coach at a news conference scheduled for today.
A highly reliable source, who asked to remain anonymous because of being unauthorized to discuss the recent and secretive coaching search conducted by EWU athletic director Bill Chaves, said Hayford agreed to accept the Eastern job Monday, ending his successful 10-year run as an NCAA Division III head coach at Whitworth University.
The 43-year-old Hayford will replace Kirk Earlywine, who was fired earlier this month after going 42-78 in four seasons as Eagles head coach.
Terms of Hayford’s new contract were not immediately available, and it was unclear whether any of Earlywine’s former assistants would be retained.
In his 10 years at Whitworth, Hayford won almost 80 percent (217-57) of his games and led the Pirates to eight 20-win seasons and six NCAA tournaments, including the last five. The Bucs’ best postseason run came this year when they advanced to the Elite Eight, or Sectional Final, of the D-III national tournament, before losing to The College of Wooster 76-66 on the Fighting Scots’ home floor in Wooster, Ohio.
Whitworth, which was ranked No. 1 in the final D3hoops.com poll of the regular season, was the No. 1 seed in the national tournament, and received a first-round bye and second-round home game before being sent to Ohio.
During his stay at Whitworth, Hayford led the Pirates to six Northwest Conference titles – including the last five in a row – and captured five conference coach of the year awards. In addition, he coached six NWC players of the year, including this year’s top scorer, senior guard Michael Taylor, who was also named the NCAA Division III Player of the Year by both D3hoops.com and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Hayford’s 2009-10 Whitworth team, which finished 26-3, put together a school-record 25-game winning streak during the regular season and finished unbeaten at 16-0 in league play. This year’s team won its first 23 games before losing on the road to NWC rival Whitman, 82-79, and finished the regular season 24-1.
Prior to arriving at Whitworth, Hayford spent two years as the head coach at the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.), where he went 37-27.
A 1989 graduate of Azusa Pacific, Hayford went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Claremont Graduate School in 1991. He landed his first coaching job at Contra Costa (Calif.) Christian High School in 1987 and later spent two seasons (1988-90) as the head coach at Berea (Calif.) Christian.
His first collegiate coaching job came at his alma mater, Azusa Pacific, where he spent eight seasons (1990-99) as a top assistant, helping lead APU to seven consecutive Golden State Athletic Conference titles and back-to-back appearances in the NAIA Division I Final Four.