Washington State head coach Kyle Smith watches his team play against Iowa State in during an NCAA Tournament game Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Washington State head coach Kyle Smith watches his team play against Iowa State in during an NCAA Tournament game Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

WSU men’s basketball coach Smith leaves for Stanford

Kyle Smith exits after winning Pac-12 Coach of the Year and leading the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament.

STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford has hired Kyle Smith away from Washington State to take over its struggling men’s basketball program.

Athletic director Bernard Muir announced Monday that Smith had agreed to take over the Cardinal after Jerod Haase was fired earlier this month.

“The opportunity to serve as the head men’s basketball coach at Stanford is a dream come true, and I want to thank Bernard Muir for entrusting me with this opportunity,” Smith said in a statement. “From my perspective, Stanford has the resources and reputation to attract the ideal student-athlete who is seeking the character development aspects of what our basketball program will offer.”

Smith is coming off his first career NCAA Tournament appearance as he oversaw an impressive turnaround at Washington State that earned him Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors. He helped the Cougars win 25 games, win an NCAA Tournament game and get into the AP poll in their most successful season since 2008 under Tony Bennett.

Smith now follows coaches like Bennett, Kelvin Sampson and George Raveling who turned their success at Washington State into bigger jobs.

Smith was an ideal candidate for Stanford because of his ties to the Bay Area, success at a power conference and experience at a high-academic school.

After a longtime stint as the top assistant at nearby Saint Mary’s, Smith spent six seasons as the head coach at Columbia in the Ivy League. He then spent three seasons at San Francisco before coaching the past five seasons in the Pac-12 at Washington State.

He has a 258-193 career record and has gone nine straight seasons without a losing record.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Kyle and his family to Stanford,” Muir said in a statement. “Kyle has an impressive track record of improving results in the programs he has led, and we heard consistently throughout our search process that he leads with great character and integrity. I look forward to working alongside Kyle and I am excited for Cardinal student-athletes to experience his passionate leadership.”

Haase posted just two winning seasons at Stanford and had a 126-127 record overall since replacing Johnny Dawkins in 2016.

Smith will have the tough task of taking Stanford into its first campaign in the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, with tougher competition and more difficult cross-country travel, as well as dealing with issues facing all of major college sports from the transfer portal and NIL.

The decision by Smith is the latest blow for Washington State. Ten of the 12 Pac-12 schools are departing the conference, leaving Washington State and Oregon State alone. The Cougars will play basketball next season as affiliate members in the West Coast Conference as the two remaining schools try to rebuild a new version of the Pac-12.

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