Is WSU basketball coach on shaky ground?

Athletic director says he’s undecided about Bone; major donor unhappy

Contributing writerFebruary 12, 2013 

SPOKANE – Washington State athletic director Bill Moos, who has long maintained that he makes decisions about hiring and firing coaches only at the end of the season, said Monday his policy applies to embattled basketball coach Ken Bone.

Asked point-blank if he has decided if Bone will be retained or let go after this season, Moos said, “No.”

He added, “At the end of the day, I’m the one responsible for making those decisions, and it’s never easy.”

Asked if money alone will impact his decision on Bone’s future, Moos said, “No.”

Bone is owed $2.55 million — $850,000 per season — on the three remaining years of the seven-year contract he signed with former Cougars athletic director Jim Sterk in 2009.

Bone has drawn criticism from fans this season in particular. He has yet to post a losing record at WSU and has guided the Cougars to postseason tournaments two consecutive years — although he’s never taken them to the NCAA tournament — but his current team’s record is 11-13.

Washington State is tied for last in the Pacific-12 Conference at 2-9. Attendance and general fan enthusiasm have been modest.

Greg Rankich, a WSU alum who made the largest donation in Cougars sports history ($3 million) to help fund last year’s upgrades to the Martin Stadium football facility, regularly criticizes Bone on Twitter. His messages often end with #FireBone.

Moos said he was unaware of Rankich’s Twitter messages.

“I don’t let those things sway me too much,” Moos said with a laugh.

Bone, a highly successful coach at Seattle Pacific and Portland State before WSU, owns a 68-59 record in four years with the Cougars. His conference record is 24-41, peaking with a 9-9 mark and sixth-place finish in the 2010-11 season.

WSU’s current four-game skid is the longest active losing streak in the league.

“I wish we had more wins,” Moos said. “I wish we had a true point guard.”

Senior point guard Reggie Moore, a three-year starter, was kicked off the team prior to the season for violation of unspecified team rules. Natural shooting guards Michael Ladd and Royce Woolridge, who had little point guard experience, have split time at the point.

Moore was one of three WSU basketball starters cited by police for marijuana possession during the 2010-11 season, when the Cougars played in the NIT Final Four. Moos wouldn’t say specifically why Moore left the team.

“I’m not going to say it,” Moos said. “He violated our rules and policies. He knew what they were.”

Ikenna Iroegbu, a point guard at nationally respected prep power Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., has signed a letter of intent with the Cougars for next season. Demarquise “Que” Johnson, a highly touted wing player, is being counted on for next season after being ruled academically ineligible this season by the NCAA.

“He’s got some pretty good players coming in,” Moos said of Bone.

The Cougars have seven conference games remaining, so they will again fail to post a winning league record. WSU’s only winning conference records in the past 18 seasons came in 2006-07 (13-5) and 2007-08 (11-7) under the man Bone replaced, Tony Bennett, who left for Virginia after the 2008-09 season.

NOT MANY WinS AT WSU

A look at Ken Bone’s coaching record at Washington State:

YEAROVERALLCONFERENCEPOSTSEASON

2009-1016-156-12None

2010-1122-139-9NIT semifinals

2011-1219-187-11CBI finals

2012-1311-132-9To be determined

TOTAL68-59 (.535)24-41 (.369)

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