With Rick Sloan retiring as the head coach of the track and field program, athletic director Bill Moos was tasked with hiring a new WSU head track and field coach for the first time in two decades. Moos pulled Mike Leach out of Key West and went to North Carolina to find women's soccer coach Steve Nugent, but he didn't have to travel very far to find Sloan's replacement. The Cougars hired former Idaho head coach Wayne Phipps on Tuesday.
"I am most happy to welcome Wayne to the Cougar family," Moos said in a release from the school. "I have watched his good work from afar and have been impressed with not only his success in regards to competition but also how he has managed his program. I believe he is a great fit and I am excited for the future of our Cougar Track and Field programs."
Phipps was reportedly one of the top candidates after Arizona cross country coach and former WSU cross country coach James Li didn't find WSU's offer "sufficiently enticing" according to John Blanchette of the Spokesman Review. Phipps spent the last 19 years with Idaho, including the last four as the Director of Track & Field/Cross Country. He'll assume the same role with WSU. Phipps' resume is impressive including leading Idaho to 16 conference titles while earning 14 conference coach of the year honors.
"It is an absolute honor and privilege to be the next director of track and field and cross country at Washington State University," Phipps said. "The Cougars have a legendary past in track and field; and the teams and athletes that coaches such as John Chaplin and Rick Sloan have produced will go down in track and field history. I could not be more excited about the opportunity to keep this tradition alive, to make Cougar nation proud, and to represent Washington State University at the highest level possible."
The Vandals have been strong in recent seasons, winning the WAC title for women's cross country in 2012 and 2013 before taking home the conference title in men's indoor track and field, men's outdoor track and field and women's outdoor track and field this season. The Vandals success wasn't limited to WAC competitions either. During Phipps tenure, Idaho finished in the top 25 in the nation 11 times in track and field and once in cross country.