March 9, 1999
PULLMAN, Wash. - Harold Rhodes has been a Cougar for 24 years, first as a player, then as an assistant and head coach of Washington State's women's hoop program. Next winter the former All-Pacific-8 Conference guard will not be patrolling the sidelines where he has been a fixture for the last 17 years.
WSU Athletic Director Rick Dickson, along with Rhodes, made the announcement at a noon press conference Tuesday.
"We are announcing that his contract is not being renewed at this time," Dickson said at the press conference. "We have determined we are making a change in leadership and that his contract will not be renewed."
"I want to say that all his contributions have been greatly appreciated," Dickson commented. "Harold will be missed and his contributions will endure."
"I am a Cougar, I went to school here, grew up here," Rhodes told the gathering. "The only disappointment I have is that I couldn't done a better job on the "win" side of the ledger. Being a part of a program that cares about the student athletes, that cares about the coaches, being a part of a university that believes in doing things in a first class manner, I wanted to be here with Rick to make sure everyone understands a business decision was made, a positive decision was made and there shouldn't be any backwash with that (decision)."
"This (Pullman and WSU) has been home for me and it will continue to be home for me," an upbeat Rhodes said. "When you spend 24 years someplace, it is home."
"I want to thank Rick for his support," Rhodes continued. "When he came in five years ago and started doing things to help the women's programs to grow, and there were things he did that were not done in the past, I appreciate that."
"One of the things I wanted to make sure last night as we visited with the athletes was to make sure none of them feel some responsibility that 'I got the coach fired,'" Rhodes said of his young club that included seven sophomores and five juniors. "I don't want them, I don't want Rick or anyone else feeling any responsibility for this (decision). I was the head coach and part of my responsibility was to produce a winner. That didn't happen. That is part of life. Disappointment, yes, but isn't that life. You get up and move forward.
In 17 years, Rhodes compiled a 194-271 record, including WSU's only appearance in the NCAA post-season tournament. In the decade of the 1990's, Rhodes' teams had four winning season, including an 18-11 record in 1991 when they earned a first-round berth in the NCAA tourney. This past season his club, with just one senior, finished 11-16 overall and 5-13 in Pac-10 play. It was the third straight losing season for the Cougars.
Rhodes started his association with WSU in 1975 when he was recruited by then-head men's coach George Raveling out of Amarillo Junior College. After playing a sixth-man role as a junior, he became one of WSU's "go-to" players in 1977, earning all-conference second team honors.
After a brief tryout with the defending NBA champion Portland Trailblazers, Rhodes returned to WSU as an assistant coach with Sue Durrant's women's team. Prior to the 1982-83 season, Rhodes was named Durrant's successor.
During his tenure he guided WSU from the Northern Pacific Athletic Conference into the Pacific-10 Conference, beginning in 1986-87. In 1991 he was named the conference's coach of the year. In 1994 he coached the South team to the gold medal in the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival (women). He was the head coach of three all-star teams in international competition and an assistant on two others.
"I want to step back and talk about Harold Rhodes the person," Dickson told the press conference gathering. "Without question, Harold Rhodes is one of the most positive, upbeat (people), with great integrity. One of the things I appreciated about him is he has great care, concern and compassion for the student athletes he was responsible for. He is a great team player and this again was not an easy decision."
"At Washington State we expect our programs, and in particular our women's basketball program, one of the flagship programs for women's sports at Washington State, to achieve at a certain level," Dickson explained. "While there are many great things that have occurred under Harold's leadership, given the length of time and given where we are today, we felt like a change needed to be made."
Dickson indicated he would begin a nation-wide search for Rhodes' successor immediately and that he hoped to have a coach hired shortly after the conclusion of the Women's NCAA Final Four tournament, which this year will be held in San Jose, Calif., March 27-29.