SEATTLE (AP)Washington men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins will return for his seventh season in charge of the Huskies despite four straight years without an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement Sunday that though the recently concluded season did not meet expectations, the school was sticking with Hopkins.
“After completing a postseason review of the program and after several in-depth discussions with coach Hopkins, I am hopeful that next season will once again see the Huskies competing for a Pac-12 championship and back in the NCAA Tournament,” Cohen said. “Coach Hopkins understands our expectations and is committed to make any and all necessary changes to get us there.”
Hopkins is 101-91 in his six seasons at Washington. The Huskies were 16-16 this season, finished eighth in the Pac-12 Conference and lost in the opening round of the conference tournament.
After a promising opening act with 20-plus wins in each of his first two seasons, the program has been stuck on a downward trajectory that’s led to calls from fans for a change in leadership.
Hopkins signed a six-year contract extension in 2019 and has two years remaining on the deal that pays him more than $3 million per season.
The 53-year-old had his most success in his first two seasons, going 21-13 in 2017-18. The following year, he went 27-9, winning the Pac-12 regular season title and taking the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years.
But those two seasons always came with an asterisk attached as Hopkins’ success came mostly with older players that came to Washington under former coach Lorenzo Romar. Once Hopkins’ recruiting became responsible for the bulk of the roster, the Huskies have struggled even with a handful of players that went on to be high NBA draft picks.
Washington went 15-17 in 2019-20 and a miserable 5-21 in the pandemic year of 2020-21. The Huskies were a .500 team the past two seasons, but struggled badly in showcase opportunities with convincing losses to the likes of Auburn, Gonzaga, UCLA and Arizona.
Before taking the head job at Washington, Hopkins was the top assistant and the coach-in-waiting at Syracuse. Instead of waiting for Jim Boeheim to retire, Hopkins jumped at the chance to take over a Pac-12 program when the Huskies moved on from Romar after the 2016-17 season.
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