Jamie Matthews, who won 139 games as a collegiate head coach in Michigan and Indiana, enters his fourth season as associate head coach under Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine.
The experienced collegiate coach came to Cheney, Wash., after three seasons as head coach at Saginaw Valley State in Michigan and six as head coach at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind. He coached alongside Earlywine when both were assistant coaches at Central Michigan for two seasons from 1993-95.
“I feel very fortunate that Jamie decided to join our staff,” said Earlywine. “He had a very good job at Saginaw Valley and a very good team returning. For him to leave such a good situation shows Jamie’s belief in our program at Eastern Washington.”
“He has nine years of experience as a head coach, was a player at Ball State that took his team to the NCAA Tournament and he has the added background as the son of an Indiana high school coach,” Earlywine added. “Those attributes are invaluable to me personally and to our basketball program.”
Most recently, Matthews brought the Saginaw Valley program, a Division II school, back to respectability. The 2006-07 Cardinal squad recorded its highest conference placing since the 1997-98 campaign, tying for third in the North Division of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Cardinals were 30-49 in his three seasons, including an 11-14 record in 2006-07 and 8-10 league mark.
“It took a perfect fit to walk away from Saginaw Valley State University after three years of commitment in rebuilding its basketball program,” said Matthews. “Eastern Washington University and Kirk Earlywine were that fit. Eastern Washington University has a rich history of success in the Big Sky Conference in recent years.”
At Manchester, Matthews won 109 games, the third-highest total in school history. He also reached the 100-win mark the fastest of any coach in the college’s annals. His nine-year record in 240 games as a head coach is 139-101 for a .579 winning percentage.
His best season came in 1998-99 when the Spartans went 24-5. That squad advanced to the NCAA Division III Sweet 16 and won the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. The team was eliminated by No. 1 Wisconsin-Platteville, a team led by current Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. Matthews was also named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Midwest District Coach of the Year that season, and the team finished 10th in the final NABC Coaches Poll.
Prior to his promotion to the head coaching position at Manchester, Matthews was an assistant coach there from 1995-98 under Dick Hunsaker. Hunsaker, the current head coach at Utah Valley State, and Earlywine coached together as assistants at Ball State from 1987-89 under Rick Majerus. Matthews was an assistant coach at Central Michigan from 1993-95 with Earlywine.
“Coach Earlywine is one of the best basketball teachers I have been associated with,” added Matthews. “Coach Earlywine and I share a similar philosophy in regards to the game of basketball, recruiting student-athletes of character and also placing academic commitment as the No. 1 priority in our program.”
Matthews earned a bachelor’s of science degree in finance from Ball State in 1993 and a master’s of arts degree in athletic administration from Central Michigan.
He finished up his collegiate playing career at Ball State in 1992-93, playing for Hunsaker. The Cardinals finished the season 26-8, won the Mid-American Conference Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. He scored a career-high 31 points in the MAC Tournament’s championship game and earned a position on the All-MAC Tournament Team. In a 94-72 loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, Matthews scored a team-high 18 points. He led the league in assists with an average of 6.1 per game.
Matthews also helped Ball State qualify for the 1992 NIT, helping the school finish 24-9. The Cardinals were 11-5 in the MAC and lost 58-57 to Miami in the championship game of the MAC Tournament. Matthews played his first two years at Alaska Anchorage and Vincennes, Ind., respectively.
Prior to his collegiate playing days, he and his twin brother, Scott, played for their father, Jim, at New Washington High School in Indiana. The school had a student body of 200 and he played in the days of single-class basketball in that state. The school advanced far in numerous Indiana state tournaments, claiming sectional titles his junior and senior seasons, and placed as high as seventh in the state AP top 20 poll. Matthews was named to the 1989 Indiana All-Star Team.
Matthews was born Sept. 22, 1970, and ran his first marathon in May 2010, finishing the Coeur d’Alene Marathon with a time of 3:12. He has three daughters, Kamryn (12), Tatum (10) and Mallory (6). His twin brother, Scott, played at Idaho under Larry Eustachy and was an assistant coach for Earlywine in the 1995-96 season at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C.