Jim Hayford
Jim Hayford
Phone: 509.359.2497
Email: jhayford@ewu.edu
Previous College: Azusa Pacific '90
Position: Head Coach
Experience: 4th Season

Another near-miss left the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team and head coach Jim Hayford only hungrier for their next opportunity as he enters his fourth season at the helm.

Although  they came a victory shy of a Big Sky Conference Tournament berth, the Eagles finished the 2013-14 season with three more league wins and five more victories overall than the year before. Eastern established eight school records in the 2013-14 season, including one league mark.

Eastern was 7-4 in its last 11 league games to help EWU finish 15-16 overall and 10-10 in the league. The 15 victories equals the most for the Eagles in 10 years since EWU finished 17-13 in the 2003-04 season. With 40 victories overall and 25 league wins in three seasons under Hayford, this is the best three-year stretch since 2005-08 when Eastern had 41 wins and the best in league play since 2001-04 when the Eagles won 30.

The best news of all is that the Eagles had no seniors on its 2013-14 roster, and the Eagles return highly-regarded sophomores Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois. Harvey was a first team All-Big Sky selection and earned second team honors on the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 6 team – EWU’s first player honored on that team since Rodney Stuckey in 2007. Jois earned honorable mention accolades for the second-straight year, as well as being the 2012-13 Freshman of the Year in the league. College Sports Madness named Jois (third team) and junior point guard Drew Brandon (second team) to its All-Big Sky Conference squad, and Jois earned first team All-BSC honors from College Hoops Daily.

“We were the youngest team, but you won’t hear me say that anymore,” said Hayford. “We have balanced classes, depth and experience. We are going to have upper classmen (in the 2014-15 season) and will start juniors and seniors. We have the building finished and had the two premier underclassmen in the league (in 2013-14).”

Now 294-138 (.681) in 15 seasons as a head coach, the Eagles made great strides in Hayford’s first season at the helm in 2011-12. He led the school to its most successful season in six years and concluded the season 15-17 overall and 8-8 record in the Big Sky Conference to place fourth.

His team improved by five victories from the year before, as the Eagles equaled their most wins since Eastern made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004. The Eagles won their first postseason game since 2006, beating Idaho State in the quarterfinals (81-75) before falling to eventual champion Montana (74-66) in the semifinals.

In addition, Eastern won six road games – its most since EWU won seven in the 2002-03 season and six the year after. And Eastern’s average attendance of 2,286 was double the 1,101 average of the 2010-11 season when EWU finished 10-20 overall and 7-9 in the league. Eastern’s crowds of 3,617 versus Montana State on Jan. 28 and 3,512 against Montana on Jan. 26 rank ninth and 10th, respectively, on EWU’s all-time list of single game recorded attendance.

And for the first time since 2006, the Eagles also had their first non-losing conference season and hosted and won their first game in the Big Sky Conference Championship.

“I’m really proud of our players, and proud of the season we had,” said Hayford, who has also had tremendous fund-raising success through his Sixth-Man Club. “We advanced Eastern Basketball further than it had in a long time, and that’s what I want our players to hang their hat on.”

In just two years, Hayford has had players earn some of the highest honors they can win in the league. In his first season, his players were honored on the All-Big Sky Conference first team (Cliff Colimon), BSC All-Tournament squad (Colimon) and Big Sky Newcomer of the Year (Collin Chiverton) – only the third such honor for an Eagle and the first since 2002.

The continued development of young players was the focus in the 2012-13 season, including six freshmen/sophomores who each started at least three games with a collective total of 97 starts. In 2012-13, freshman sensation Venky Jois was selected as the Big Sky Freshman of the Year, becoming just the fifth Eagle to win the award. He also earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors from the coaches.

After spending 10 seasons building nearby Whitworth University into a NCAA Division III powerhouse, Hayford was announced as Eastern’s new head men’s basketball coach on March 29, 2011. He is Eastern’s 17th head coach in history and ninth at the NCAA Division I level (since 1983-84).

In his tenure at the helm of the Pirates, Hayford had a record of 217-57 and a winning percentage of .792. He coached the Pirates to eight 20-win seasons, six appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament (including the last five seasons in a row), five Northwest Conference titles, three NCAA DIII Sweet 16 appearances (2008, 2010, 2011) and one Elite Eight appearance (2011).

“We are hiring the right person at the right time for Eastern basketball,” Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves said when Hayford was hired. “Coach Hayford has had tremendous success on the court as his record attests. He has also had tremendous success with the academics and leadership of student-athletes. And his ability to get into the community is outstanding. We could not be more excited in bringing Jim and his family into the EWU family.”

Hayford, 45, earned five NWC Coach of the Year awards and was honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the West Region Coach of the Year in both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. In Hayford’s final two years at Whitworth, the Pirates were 54-5 overall and 31-1 in league play. Whitworth was ranked 21-consecutive times in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings over Hayford’s final three seasons at Whitworth.

During his 10 seasons leading the Pirates, Hayford coached six Northwest Conference Players of the Year – Bryan Depew (2003), Lance Pecht (2006), Bryan Williams (2007), Ryan Symes (2008), Nate Montgomery (2010) and Michael Taylor (2011). During the same period, 25 Whitworth players earned All-NWC honors, including 18 first-team selections.

Hayford said all five positions on the court were represented by those players of the year. He said that illustrates his program’s ability to adjust and adapt.

“We’ve been able to run a system that features the different strengths of great individual players every year at every position,” Hayford explained. “I think I’m adjustable and adaptable to utilize the strengths of our team. We determine what new talent we need to complement our returning players, and then we put together a solid core that can help give our program a winning record.”

“Our goal is to quickly get this program to a winning Big Sky season and post-season success,” he added.

Including his two seasons at Sioux Falls (1999-2001), Hayford’s win-loss record is 279-122 (.696) in 14 seasons as a head coach. At the time he left Whitworth, his career winning percentage ranked among the top 10 among all active NCAA Division III coaches.

“It’s a dream come true to lead and coach a NCAA Division I program,” Hayford added. “I feel like I’m joining a winner when you look at what the Eastern Athletic Department has been able to accomplish, including the national championship in football. The future is great here in Cheney and I’m so proud to be an Eagle. We are looking forward to taking the Eastern basketball program to a new level of success.”

 

After 10 Years at Whitworth, Relationships Continue . . .

In his 10 years at Whitworth, Hayford developed solid relationships on a number of levels. Most notably, with his players.

“The basis of my coaching is a highly-relational style,” he explained. “We want our players to be solid and comfortable in their relationship with me – there needs to be give-and-take, feedback and communication going both ways. The days of a coach doing all the talking and the players doing all the listening is over.

“I’m consistent at finding out what is their best and what they consider excellence, and then hold them to that every day that I coach them,” he continued. “By developing consistency and relationships, insisting on excellence and being able to do things together, we’re going to create a culture where this is a true team. We need to be sold on each other, committed to each other and we need to be able to count on each other. That will be the strength of our program.”

Those relationships extend to the high school coaching community.

“When you live in one place for 10 years, you get to know all of the high school coaches in the state and the region,” he said. “Those relationships transfer. While teams at the Division I level were recruiting one player on a particular team, I was building a great relationship with that coach recruiting another player on that team.”

Like the Eastern football program, which captivated the community and its alumni base with its run to the 2010 NCAA Division I title, Hayford hopes his program does the same in the coming years.

“We want Eastern Washington basketball to be a meeting place where the community wants to come together, take pride in the kind of players that are on the court, want to cheer them on and share in their success,” he said. “We want to bring a lot of people to the party.”

 

Hayford’s 2010-11 Whitworth Squad Led by Former Eagle Michael Taylor . . .

Whitworth spent three weeks in the 2010-11 season ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings, including the top ranking at the end of the regular season. The Pirates set a school record for victories and winning percentage in finishing 28-2 (.933), and ended the season ranked fifth nationally after losing at Wooster 76-66 on March 12, 2011. Whitworth advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final (Elite Eight) for the first time in school history, while making its fifth-straight NCAA DIII Tournament appearance. The Pirates also claimed their fifth-straight NWC Tournament title.

Leading the way in Whitworth’s sensational 2010-11 season was Taylor, who averaged 5.7 points and 1.9 assists when he started for EWU as a true freshman in the 2006-07 season. In his lone season playing for the Pirates, he was named the D3hoops.com Men’s Player of the Year and was named a first-team All-American by D3hoops.com and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

In addition, Taylor was previously named the NABC West Region Player of the Year, D3hoops.com West Region Player of the Year and Northwest Conference Player of the Year in his only season with the Pirates. He led the team in scoring average (20.3 points per game to rank second in the NWC) and led the Northwest Conference in both free throw percentage (.884) and three-point percentage (.528). He also led the Pirates in assists (3.5 per game to rank third in the NWC). After playing one season at EWU, Taylor transferred to the University of Montana where he was a key contributor off of the bench in two seasons.

In 2009-10, the Pirates put together a school-record 25-game winning streak and finished unbeaten in the Northwest Conference (16-0) en route to a final record of 26-3. The Pirates finished ranked seventh in the D3hoops.com poll.

In 2008-09, Hayford led the Pirates to a 23-6 record and a runner-up finish in the NWC standings. Whitworth then made their fourth national tournament appearance by virtue of winning the NWC Tournament championship game. Whitworth accomplished that despite the graduation of two first-team All-NWC selections, including the conference’s Player of the Year (Ryan Symes), following the ‘07-’08 season.

During the 2007-08 season, Hayford coached Whitworth to its second-consecutive Northwest Conference title and second-straight appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament, where the Pirates advanced to the Sectional Semifinals (third round). Whitworth finished 21-7 overall and Hayford earned his third NWC Coach of the Year award.

In 2006-07, he led Whitworth to a 24-4 record and a conference title, earning his second NWC Coach of the Year honor. His team set the school record for single-season winning percentage (.857), which was later broken by the 2009-10 squad (26-3, .897) and his final team in 2010-11 (28-2, .933). The Pirates advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing at the eventual third-place finisher by only two points.

He coached the Pirates to a 20-7 record and to within a game of the NCAA Tournament in the 2005-06 season. The 2004-05 season may have been Hayford’s greatest challenge, but also possibly his greatest accomplishment. Rebuilding his team with only one returning starter, Hayford coached the Pirates to five-straight wins to end the season, turning an overall record of 8-11 and an NWC mark of 4-7 into 13-11 and 9-7 finishes.

The Pirates also just missed one of six at-large bids to the 2003-04 NCAA Division III Tournament after the team’s third straight top-two finish in the NWC and a 19-6 overall record.

In his second season (2002-03), he led Whitworth to a 23-4 record, a Northwest Conference title and an appearance in the 2003 NCAA Division III Tournament, earning his first Coach of the Year award. In his first season as the head coach at Whitworth in 2001-02, Hayford led the Pirates to a record of 20-7 and a second-place finish in the NWC. It was the second-best coaching debut in Whitworth men’s basketball history. The only coach to start better was Art Smith, whose 1954-55 team finished 21-4 and advanced to the NAIA Tournament.

The Pirates were 13-12 the season before he arrived.

 

Hayford 37-27 at Sioux Falls in First Collegiate Head Coaching Stop . . .

Prior to coming to Whitworth, Hayford was head coach at the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.), where he compiled a 37-27 record in two seasons. During his inaugural season (1999-2000), he led the Cougars to their first conference playoff appearance in five years. The team finished 15-15 after losing in the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference (SDIC) championship game. Hayford’s Cougars finished the 2000-01 season at 22-12 and lost to the eventual NAIA Division II champions (Northwestern College of Iowa) in double overtime in the Great Plains Athletic Conference championship game. His team set a school record for wins in a season. Prior to Hayford’s arrival, USF was 9-17 in 1998-99.

Hayford served as the top assistant coach at Azusa Pacific University (Calif.) from 1990-99, including eight seasons under Bill Odell. APU won seven consecutive Golden State Athletic Conference titles during that time and advanced to the NAIA Division I Final Four in each of his final two seasons there.

Hayford also coached at the high school level, leading Contra Costa Christian High School in 1987 and Berean Christian High School from 1988-1990.

Hayford earned his master’s degree in education from Claremont Graduate School in 1991. He earned his bachelor’s degree in social science from Azusa Pacific in 1989. He is a 1985 graduate of Berean Christian, which is located in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Hayford and his wife, Robin, have a daughter, Jayme (19), and son, Joseph (16). Jayme is a student at Arizona State University, and Joseph attends Gonzaga Prep in Spokane.

 

Jim Hayford’s Head Coaching Career

Year

School

Overall

Pct.

Conference

1999-2000

Sioux Falls

15-15

.500

 

2000-2001

Sioux Falls

22-12

.647

 

Totals at Sioux Falls (2 seasons)

 

37-27

.578

 

2001-2002

Whitworth

20-7

.741

12-4/2nd

2002-2003***

Whitworth

23-4

.851

13-3/1st

2003-2004

Whitworth

19-6

.760

12-4/2nd

2004-2005

Whitworth

13-11

.542

9-7/4th

2005-2006

Whitworth

20-7

.741

13-3/2nd

2006-2007***

Whitworth

24-4

.857

13-3/1st

2007-2008***

Whitworth

21-7

.750

12-4/1st

2008-2009***

Whitworth

23-6

.793

12-4/2nd

2009-2010***

Whitworth

26-3

.897

16-0/1st

2010-2011***

Whitworth

28-2

.933

15-1/1st

Totals at Whitworth (10 seasons)

 

217-57

.792

127-33 .794

2011-2012^^^

Eastern Wash.

15-17

.469

8-8/4th

2012-13

Eastern Wash.

10-21

.323

7-13/8th

2013-14

Eastern Wash.

15-16

.484

10-10/7th

Totals at Eastern (3 seasons)

 

40-54

.426

25-31

Totals as Head Coach (15 seasons)

 

294-138

.681

 

 
***Season concluded with NCAA Division III Tournament berth.

^^^Season concluded with Big Sky Conference Tournament berth.

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