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Dan Monson hired by Eastern Washington after leading Long Beach State to NCAA Tournament

Lame duck coach had players rally to reach big dance

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: April 12, 2024, 7:34pm

Eastern Washington hired Dan Monson on Friday, the coach who led Long Beach State to the NCAA Tournament after the school told him he would be fired at the end of the season.

Monson, who also coached at Gonzaga and Minnesota, will take over an Eagles program that has won the last two Big Sky Conference regular-season titles.

The 62-year-old gained an unexpected level of notoriety and celebrity during March Madness for his unusual coaching situation.

“Throughout the search for our next men’s basketball coach, it was important, for us, to identify a head coach who represented this area,” Eastern Washington athletic director Tim Collins said in a statement. “While talking to (Dan), it became clear that this region matters as much to him as Eastern does to it.”

Monson replaces David Riley, who left to take the head job at Washington State last week.

Long Beach State athletic director Bobby Smitheran made the decision that Monson would not return next season right before the Big West Conference Tournament.

Long Beach State won the conference tournament to earn an unexpected NCAA tourney bid before losing to Arizona in the first round.

Smitheran then told the AP that ousting Monson, who was on a four-game losing streak when the decision was made, was part of the plan to turn things around and landed the team in the tournament.

“That guy does not deserve that. He’s a great man,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said of his friend after beating Long Beach State in the tournament. “He deserves another job, another opportunity.”

He’ll get that opportunity not far from where Monson’s head coaching career started.

Monson will bring an impressive resume to Cheney: 27 years as a head coach, 445 wins, nine regular-season or conference titles, four trips to March Madness.

He’s the man who, in the late 1990s, built the foundation at Gonzaga that propelled the Zags on a string of 25 straight trips to the tournament. He also rebuilt Long Beach State, coming in after a recruiting scandal placed the program in NCAA purgatory.

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