Home News Home run for UW is gut punch for WSU

Home run for UW is gut punch for WSU


Washington clocked its in-state rival with another right cross Tuesday and, in the process, made the smartest move possible for the future of its athletic department.

The Huskies have reportedly hired Washington State athletic director Pat Chun for the same post on Montlake, and they can be fairly certain Chun won’t be blowing town in five months like his predecessor.

In fact, the entire Troy Dannen experience morphed into the perfect scenario for UW because it led to president Ana Mari Cauce hiring the most qualified person possible for the job.

This is college athletics. Schools rarely make the smartest move available.

The Huskies screwed up once with Dannen, who fled Seattle after five months for the same post at Nebraska.

In the scramble to fill the void, they turned to Chun, who should have been their choice after Jen Cohen left for USC last summer.

Chun has a stellar track record for hiring coaches, possesses first-rate fundraising chops and understands the roiling college sports landscape as well as anyone from his work on the NCAA transformation committee.

Also, he has spent six years in the Palouse and won’t experience culture shock in Seattle.

And his grasp of Big Ten dynamics — he attended Ohio State and worked for athletic director Gene Smith — will serve UW well in its new conference.

(The opportunity comes a few months after Ohio State passed on the chance to hire Chun — a gut punch for him, we suspect — and hired Ross Bjork from Texas A&M.)

In other words, Chun was uniquely qualified to take over for his good friend, Cohen.

While the former didn’t directly succeed the latter, it’s like the Dannen era never happened … except for losing Kalen DeBoer, hiring Jedd Fisch and firing Mike Hopkins.

Chun inherits a department with new head coaches in football (Fisch) and men’s basketball (Danny Sprinkle), so the transition to the Big Ten, and putting UW in the best possible competitive position, will be his first order of business.

For Washington State — oh, Cougs! — the Chun move comes one day after basketball coach Kyle Smith left for Stanford.

But it’s a far more significant loss. Chun’s stewardship of Cougar athletics was the one constant through the tumult that began Aug. 4, when the Pac-12 collapsed.

You remember the collapse — and Washington’s central role in the affair. The Huskies declined an all-in deal with Apple and in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 4 opted to enter the Big Ten along with Oregon.

The resulting implosion eventually left WSU and Oregon State alone. While the two schools just finalized a settlement with the 10 outgoing members that secured approximately $250 million in long-haul revenue, their futures are anything but secure.

Eight months after delivering the hammer, the Huskies used their elevated status to lure Chun away and leave the Cougars scrambling once again.

The one saving grace for WSU: Chun will have immense empathy for the Cougars and, we suspect, will make every attempt to help the Cougars with scheduling intra-state scheduling and any other matter related to their survival and prosperity.

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