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Washington State names Hall of Famer Kamie Ethridge women’s basketball coach

Kamie Ethridge led Northern Colorado to Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament titles this year. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Northern Colorado’s Kamie Ethridge, one of the most decorated women’s basketball players in the country and a Division I coach for the past 27 years, was named Sunday to lead the struggling Washington State women’s program.

“Our goal is to build a championship culture that develops every aspect of our student-athletes in women’s basketball,” WSU athletic director Patrick Chun said. “The first step in building this culture is bringing Coach Ethridge to the Palouse.”

Ethridge has been part of a winning culture since her college days at Texas, where she helped lead the Longhorns to an NCAA title and and undefeated season in 1986.

Two years later in Seoul, South Korea, the 5-foot-5 point guard won an Olympic gold medal with the United States. She was named to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

The 53-year-old Ethridge replaces June Daugherty, dismissed last month after 11 seasons.

So competitive that she once competed in a triathlon and rode the last three miles of the bicycle leg on a flat tire, Ethridge also won gold at the FIBA World Championships, World University Games and Pan American Games.

“Kamie is committed to creating an environment that delivers the best possible experience to our student-athletes,” Chun said. “Her values, character and vision make her an exact fit for our goals in this next chapter of our basketball program.”

After graduation, Ethridge worked as Texas for one year as a graduate assistant, then followed with a two-year stint at Northern Illinois.

An assistant at Vanderbilt from 1991-96, she helped the Commodores reach the Sweet 16 all five seasons, including a Final Four run in 1992-93. While at Vandy, Ethridge played a major role in recruiting five high school Kodak All-Americans and 13 Gatorade State Players of the Year.

Ethridge spent 18 seasons (1996-2014) as an assistant coach at Kansas State, where she was part of a staff that took teams to nine NCAA Tournaments, four WNIT Tournaments (including winning the 2006 WNIT championship), and two Big 12 championships.

The Wildcats advanced to six Sweet 16s while totaling a record of 350-226.

In her first head-coaching stint, Ethridge spent the past four seasons at Northern Colorado, posting three 20-plus win seasons, including a school-record 26 wins en route to being named Big Sky Coach of the Year this season. She led UNC to a then-school-record 22 wins in her first season before topping that mark in 2018.

This year’s UNC squad, which lost to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, ranked among the best in Big Sky history, finishing 26-6 with a 32 ranking in the RPI and wins over NCAA Tournament teams DePaul and LSU.

Can she do the same at WSU, which had just one winning season under Daugherty?

“Every good thing in basketball begins and ends with the quality of people we are surrounded by,” Ethridge said. “I am convinced that at Washington State I will be surrounded by people of excellence in the athletic department, as well as throughout the academic community, Pullman and all of Cougar nation.”