Ernie Kent

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Ernie Kent
Ernie Kent photo by Kaly Harward.jpg
Kent during a Oregon men's basketball game on March 4, 2010
Biographical details
Born (1955-01-22) January 22, 1955 (age 64)
Rockford, Illinois
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1987–1989Colorado State (assistant)
1989–1991Stanford (assistant)
1991–1997Saint Mary's
2014–2019Washington State
Head coaching record
Overall383–351 (college)
Tournaments6–6 (NCAA Division I)
6–2 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
WCC regular season (1997)
WCC Tournament (1997)
Pac-10 regular season (2002)
2 Pac-10 Tournament (2003, 2007)
Pac-10 Coach of the Year (2002)

Ernest Kent (born January 22, 1955)[1] is an American college basketball coach. He is the former head men's basketball coach at Washington State University.[2] Prior to Washington State, he served as the head men's basketball coach at the University of Oregon and at Saint Mary's (CA). Kent was previously an assistant at Stanford University and also coached abroad in Saudi Arabia.[3] Kent was a college basketball commentator with the Pac-12 Network.

Basketball player[edit]

Kent played for the Oregon Ducks from 1973 to 1977 under head coach Dick Harter.[4] Nicknamed "Million Moves", he was a part of the Kamikaze Kids, known for constant hustle and extremely aggressive play in their attempts to win ball games. Knee injuries ended his collegiate career.[3]

Kent played high school basketball for West High School in Rockford, Illinois. As a Class of 1973 senior, he was named Parade Magazine All-American, Scholastic All-America by Scholastic Magazine, Illinois High School Association (IHSA) All-State, received the American Legion Outstanding Achievement Award, and was a member of the National Honor Society.[5]

Coaching career[edit]

Early coaching career[edit]

Between 1980 and 1987, Ernie Kent spent his days in Saudi Arabia coaching basketball for the Al-Khaleej Club.[3] Kent and his wife were immersed in Arab culture, living in a Shiite Muslim village for their first two years,[3] also working for the Arabian American Oil Company in Dhahran.[1] He recalls learning how to be patient, since a translator was required for communication with his team.[3] It was a stressful period of his life and taught him how to deal with extreme pressure.

I worked seven years in Saudi Arabia coaching and my paycheck was on one side of the table and my passport on the other, and they said to me, 'You can't leave and you won't get paid if you don't win.' I think I've handled pressure. I would go to the games and there would be a young Saudi with a submachine gun outside the game. That's pressure. This, this is just basketball.

— Ernie Kent

After returning to the United States from Saudi Arabia, he became an assistant coach at Colorado State University, then at Stanford University under head coach Mike Montgomery.[7] He later went on to become the head coach at Saint Mary's College of California where he remained for six years.[1] While at Saint Mary's, Kent's coaching relationship with the players changed drastically. There he coached now actor Mahershala Ali His players told Kent that they could not relate to him due to his militaristic style. From that moment on, Kent reversed his stance and became more compassionate toward his players. He took his players before every season to go to a retreat, where his players bonded with each other, strengthening the cohesiveness of the team,[7] a tradition he continued at the University of Oregon.[8]


Kent was hired in 1997 to replace Jerry Green, who was leaving for a position at the University of Tennessee,[9] Kent was the first African American head coach to be hired in the history of the Oregon Ducks athletic department in any sport.[1] Under Kent, the Ducks reached the NCAA tournament five times, in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008, reaching the Elite Eight in 2002 and 2007.[10] He also led the Ducks to the National Invitation Tournament Final Four in 1999 and 2004. In the 2002 season, Kent led the team to its first conference title since 1939 despite the Pacific-10 Conference sending a record of six teams into the NCAA tournament.[1] Under Kent, Oregon was known for playing an up-tempo pace and guard-heavy lineups.[11]

As head coach, Kent was known for his recruiting ability, bringing in a class of highly regarded recruits in 2004 such as Maarty Leunen, Bryce Taylor, Chamberlain Oguchi and Malik Hairston.[12][13] He was highly criticized for failing to sign two of the highest profile recruits to come from the state of Oregon for the class of 2007, Kyle Singler and Kevin Love.[6] The following year, he signed the #21 recruiting class.[14] During his tenure, he had four players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft in Fred Jones, Luke Ridnour, Luke Jackson and Aaron Brooks.[1]

A decline in the success of his teams between 2004 and 2006, the perceived lack of development of highly regarded recruits as well as rumors of personal issues led many people to question whether Kent would remain at Oregon after the 2005–2006 season. But after the season, the school's athletic director at the time, Bill Moos, issued a statement affirming his support for Kent.[6] The team regained its composure the following year and finished the season within the Elite Eight in the 2007 NCAA tournament. Senior point guard Aaron Brooks said that he felt the team let Kent down the previous season for wanting to play in an up-tempo style but not conditioning for it.[6] After the 2008–2009 season when Kent posted his worst record with Oregon, questions whether Kent would be retained resurfaced.[15] Kent remained the head coach,[16] but following a second-to-last finish in the Pac-10 in the 2009–10 season, Kent was fired.[17]

Washington State[edit]

On March 31, 2014, Kent was hired to replace Ken Bone as the Men's Basketball coach at Washington State University. He was fired five years later on March 14, 2019, one day after losing to University of Oregon in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Ernie Kent was born January 22, 1955 in Rockford, Illinois and has three adult children: Marcus, Jordan and McKenzie.[1] Jordan Kent was a three-sport letterman for the University of Oregon in track & field, basketball and football.[19]

With his degree in community service and public affairs, he was also heavily involved in community service in Eugene, earning the 2004 Hope Award from the Oregon Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Kent is also active with the American Cancer Society and the Coaches Versus Cancer campaign while being the honorary chairman of the Children's Miracle Network.[1]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Saint Mary's Gaels (West Coast Conference) (1991–1997)
1991–92 Saint Mary's 13–17 4–10 6th
1992–93 Saint Mary's 11–16 6–8 6th
1993–94 Saint Mary's 13–14 5–9 7th
1994–95 Saint Mary's 18–10 10–4 T–2nd
1995–96 Saint Mary's 12–15 5–9 7th
1996–97 Saint Mary's 23–8 10–4 T–1st NCAA Division I First Round
Saint Mary's: 90–80 (.529) 40–44 (.476)
Oregon Ducks (Pacific-10 Conference) (1998–2010)
1997–98 Oregon 13–14 8–10 T–5th
1998–99 Oregon 19–13 8–10 T–5th NIT Semifinal
1999–00 Oregon 22–8 13–5 3rd NCAA Division I First Round
2000–01 Oregon 14–14 5–13 T–6th
2001–02 Oregon 26–9 14–4 1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
2002–03 Oregon 23–10 10–8 5th NCAA Division I First Round
2003–04 Oregon 18–13 9–9 T–4th NIT Semifinal
2004–05 Oregon 14–13 6–12 T–8th
2005–06 Oregon 15–18 7–11 T–7th
2006–07 Oregon 29–8 11–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Elite Eight
2007–08 Oregon 18–14 9–9 T–5th NCAA Division I First Round
2008–09 Oregon 8–23 2–16 10th
2009–10 Oregon 16–16 7–11 T–8th
Oregon: 235–173 (.576) 109–125 (.466)
Washington State Cougars (Pac-12 Conference) (2014–2019)
2014–15 Washington State 13–18 7–11 T–8th
2015–16 Washington State 9–22 1–17 12th
2016–17 Washington State 13–18 6–12 T–10th
2017–18 Washington State 12–19 4–14 11th
2018–19 Washington State 11–21 4–14 11th
Washington State: 58–98 (.372) 22–68 (.244)

Total: 383–351 (.522)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ernie Kent Biography Archived 2009-04-13 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ernie Kent Washington State bio
  3. ^ a b c d e Curtis, Jake (2000-02-10). "Kent Revives Oregon Program". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  4. ^ Hockaday, Peter (2002-01-10). "All his Ducks in a row". Oregon Daily Emerald. Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  5. ^ "Ernie Kent Biography". University of Oregon. Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d Katz, Andy (2007-03-10). "Ken overcomes job, personal issues to triumph". ESPN. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Schrogin, Jonah (2003-05-15). "Kent discusses players, coaching style in lecture". Oregon Daily Emerald. Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  8. ^ Kirkpatrick, Curry (2003-01-23). "Two for One". ESPN the Magazine. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  9. ^ "Kent named basketball coach at Oregon". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 1997-04-11. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  10. ^ "Coach Ernie Kent and Oregon agree to new contract". USA Today. 2008-07-18. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  11. ^ Andrews, Luke (2007-03-19). "Styles clash when Oregon and Florida vie for Final Four berth". Oregon Daily Emerald. Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  12. ^ Schroeder, George (2009-03-21). "Ernie Kent's biggest sales pitch". The Register Guard. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  13. ^ eDuck Basketball Recruiting class of 2004 commits
  14. ^ Basketball 2008 Recruiting Class Rankings
  15. ^ Schroeder, George (2009-03-20). "Kilkenny, Kent set to meet next week". The Register Guard. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  16. ^ "Kent stays as Oregon's coach, hires Arizona's Dunlap as top assistant". April 1, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2009.
  17. ^ Hunt, John (March 16, 2010). "It's official: Ernie Kent fired". The Register-Guard. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
  18. ^ Jeff Borzello (2019-03-14). "Kent out as Washington St. coach after 5 years". Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  19. ^ Greif, Andrew (2009-02-04). "Jordan Kent: Not another selfish athlete". Oregon Daily Emerald. Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2009.

External links[edit]