By Meg Wochnick
Saint Martins University fired mens basketball coach Keith Cooper on Tuesday, three days after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season with an eighth-place finish in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Cooper, hired in 2003, compiled a 116-158 (.423) win-loss record in 10 seasons. The Saints' season concluded March 2 with an 82-71 win at Central Washington to finish 10-16 overall and 6-12 in the GNAC. It was the program's second consecutive season with a 6-12 record in GNAC play.
Coopers dismissal came as a surprise to the players, who were told the news at a meeting.
Hes been a huge part of my life in the past five years, senior point guard Brady Bomber said of Cooper. I have a ton of respect for him and cant say enough about what hes done for me and my teammates.
The Saints best season under Cooper came in 2008-09 when the team, led by point guard Jake Linton, went 22-8 overall and 10-6 in the GNAC for fourth place. His 2006-07 team won the conferences academic title.
Prior to Saint Martin's, Cooper spent three years as an assistant coach at two GNAC schools -- a year at his alma mater, Seattle Pacific, and two years at Central Washington. He also was the head boys basketball coach at Federal Ways Decatur High School from 1995-00.
We sincerely appreciate Keith's contributions to the University and to our basketball program over the past decade, Saint Martin's athletic director Bob Grisham said in a news release. After considerable evaluation, we have resolved to make a change in leadership with the goal of moving our men's basketball program forward.
Attempts to reach Cooper for comment were unsuccessful.
The coaching change comes on the eve of the GNAC basketball tournament, which is being held at Saint Martin's Marcus Pavilion Wednesday through Saturday. The women's tournament begins Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. with a pair of quarterfinal games and the men's tournament begins at 5:15 p.m. Thursday. Neither the Saint Martin's men's nor women's teams qualified for the tournament.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473