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News / Sports / College

UW focusing on Utah State’s Sprinkle as next men’s basketball coach

By Percy Allen, The Seattle Times
Published: March 24, 2024, 5:59pm

For reasons that were expected and surprising, the University of Washington’s search for a new men’s basketball coach has seemingly been put on hold since the Huskies announced on March 8 that Mike Hopkins would not return next season.

From the start, Washington targeted Utah State’s Danny Sprinkle, who was the early presumptive pick according to several media outlets among a list of possible candidates that included Washington State’s Kyle Smith and Florida Atlantic’s Dusty May.

Last Wednesday, Husky athletic director Troy Dannen delivered stunning news and announced he was leaving Washington after just five months to take the same position at Nebraska.

Before his departure, Dannen interviewed several candidates, including UW associate head coach Will Conroy, and put in place a plan to secure Sprinkle, who has become one of the hottest candidates on the market after making an improbable run to the NCAA tournament with a 20th-ranked Utah State team picked to finish ninth in the Mountain West.

The eighth-seeded Aggies’ magical season came to a crashing end Sunday following Sunday’s 106-67 loss to No. 1 seed Purdue, which is expected to reignite UW’s coaching search in earnest.

However, the Huskies won’t be alone.

Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt are also interested in Sprinkle, while Stanford, Louisville and West Virginia are among high-major schools with job openings.

Two recent developments may help the Huskies land Sprinkle.

Last Monday, Ohio State filled its men’s basketball coaching vacancy with Jake Diebler, the Buckeye associate head coach, who reportedly received a five-year deal worth $2.5 million annually.

On Saturday, a little more than 24 hours after Florida Atlantic lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, May cashed in and agreed to a five-year contract at an average of $3.75 million with Michigan.

It’s believed Washington will give its next coach a similar compensation package.

Hopkins earned $3.1 million this season and will receive $3.2 million for the final year of his UW deal.

It remains to be seen how quickly Washington works to secure Sprinkle now that Utah State (28-7) has been eliminated.

“It’s his job if he wants it,” said a source familiar with UW’s coaching search. “He gets the first shot. If he says no, then they’ll move down their list. But honestly, I have no idea who would be next.”

There’s mutual interest between Washington and Smith, who is reportedly the leading candidate at Stanford.

Meanwhile, several UW players are urging the Huskies to hire Conroy.

“Would love coach Conroy and Quincy (Pondexter) to take over this program and lead us into the Big Ten,” UW freshman Wesley Yates III posted on X last Wednesday.

UW officials have urged players to wait until the school makes a coaching hire before entering the transfer portal.

Last week, sophomore Koren Johnson said he plans to transfer, but as of Sunday no Husky has submitted paperwork to enter the portal.

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