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Eastern Washington University Basketball

Former EWU head coach, Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti announces retirement

Ray Giacoletti, who led Eastern Washington to the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth and later assisted at Gonzaga for six seasons, has announced his retirement from coaching.

Giacoletti, 60, spent the past three seasons on Travis Ford’s staff at Saint Louis, including two as an assistant coach after serving as assistant to the head coach for the 2019-20 season.

“My three seasons with the Billikens have been some of the best in my coaching career,” Giacoletti said in a school release. “It’s a great way to leave coaching, knowing I’m stepping away from a very good team that should have a great season next year.”

Giacoletti was hired at EWU in 2000 after Steve Aggers accepted the Loyola Marymount job. Giacoletti guided EWU to four consecutive winning seasons and four consecutive Big Sky Tournament title games. The tough-minded Eagles broke through in 2004 with a 71-59 win over Northern Arizona to earn a trip to March Madness for the first time since EWU joined Division I in 1983-84 and the Big Sky in 1987-88.

The 15th-seeded Eagles were tied at halftime with No. 2 Oklahoma State before falling 75-56 in the first round.

“We didn’t finish some plays in that second half and it’s a credit obviously to Oklahoma State,” said Giacoletti, whose 2003 Eagles played in the NIT for the first time in program history. “But I’d go anywhere with these guys and go fight any battles.”

Giacoletti was hired at Utah 10 days after EWU’s loss to Oklahoma State. He posted a 29-6 record and a trip to the Sweet 16 in his first season, but the Utes struggled the ensuing two years, ending his three-year tenure.

Giacoletti wasn’t unemployed for long, joining longtime friend Mark Few’s staff at Gonzaga. The Zags went 163-41 with six NCAA Tournament appearances in Giacoletti’s six years as an assistant. He returned to the head coaching ranks at Drake from 2013-17. He joined Ford’s SLU staff in 2019 after a short stint in television as a college basketball analyst.

“Ray has meant a great deal to me and to our program over the last three years,” Ford said. “He’s had a major impact on our players and basketball family.”

Giacoletti finished with a 203-192 career record in 14 seasons as a head coach, including three years at Division II North Dakota State prior to taking the EWU job. He was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year in 2004 and Mountain West Coach of the Year in 2005.