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Six potential candidates to replace Pat Chun

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Six potential candidates to replace Pat Chun

Washington State on Wednesday morning is where Washington was a few days earlier: without an athletic director or men’s basketball coach.

The Huskies filled their voids quickly, hiring Utah State’s Danny Sprinkle to take over the basketball program and raiding Washington State for Pat Chun, who takes over as athletic director in Seattle immediately.

We suspect the Cougars will need more than 48 hours to get both pieces in place and have prioritized the basketball search in order to prevent key players from leaving through the transfer portal.

Where should they turn to replace Chun? President Kirk Schulz plans a national search — a commendable goal, for sure. But WSU would be wise to regionalize the process.

The school’s uncertain athletic future is the woolly mammoth in the room, a massive complicating factor that assuredly will scare off many otherwise qualified candidates.

The Cougars need candidates who are willing to take on the challenge and understand the state of play in Pullman (or a comparable campus).

Schulz might decide to promote from within — that continuity and a quick fix are paramount considering the double-whammy of losing Chun and basketball coach Kyle Smith, plus the ever-present issue of charting a strategic path forward for the athletic department.

In that case, Anne McCoy, the Cougars’ senior deputy athletic director, makes sense.

If Schulz decides to look outside the department, his first call should be to San Diego State athletic director JD Wicker, who spent a decade (2001-11) working for Cougar athletics under Jim Sterk.

We are deeply skeptical of Wicker’s interest, despite his ties to the school. Given the circumstances, San Diego State provides more stability and an equivalent competitive platform. Moving forward, there is zero difference between the ‘Pac-2’ schools and a top-tier Mountain West athletic program.

But it cannot hurt to make the call. At the very least, Wicker might suggest qualified candidates and offer strategic insight.

Speaking of which, the Hotline has a few names to offer — free of charge — as the Cougars rebuild their leadership team.

(Listed alphabetically)

Western Michigan AD Dan Bartholomae: While a tad light on experience in the big chair — he has been in charge at WMU for just two years — Bartholomae is extremely well versed in the Pacific Northwest and the challenges facing Washington State. He spent five years as Oregon State’s deputy athletic director under Scott Barnes. Their relationship would serve the Cougars well given how closely WSU and OSU are working to navigate the aftermath of the Pac-12’s collapse.

Toledo AD Bryan Blair: Hired by Toledo two years ago, Blair hits the sweet spot for WSU. He worked for the Cougars under Chun (as the deputy athletic director) and has experience running a department. But would he be interested? Toledo’s conference, the MAC, is as stable as any in the country, and Blair grew up on the East Coast. Moving back to the Palouse would present both risks and challenges in equal, and daunting, amounts.





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