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Jim Sterk Quotes
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 04/01/2009
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On Tony Bennett's timeline regarding the job at Virginia (Opening Statement)...
"Coach Bennett went out there (to Virginia). He returned Friday night. Saturday morning President Floyd and I met with Tony. Saturday afternoon he was offered the job and I spoke to Tony Sunday around noon and at the time he felt like he was going to stay. And he also spoke with the president and he (the president) got the same impression. And then we received a call today, basically, that he had really changed his mind and was deciding to go to Virginia. And we will, as far as looking for next coach, we're going to look for someone with our core values. Coach Bennett optimized that with passion, excellence, pride, integrity, and our student-athlete's well-being in the forefront. That's what we're looking for and we will try to do it as quickly as we can. With that, I will open it up for questions."

Do you feel betrayed?
"(I am) disappointed, not betrayed. I think this comes as no surprise. He was the national coach of the year. A lot of people have spoken to him over the past couple of years. I think he was excited about this upcoming year, maybe not the successes, but the development of the team. I think there are some great young players in the program and our recruits that are coming. He was looking forward to that and had discussed that. (I am) disappointed because he is a heck of a coach and a great person."

Was it Thursday night or Friday morning?
"They released that is was Friday morning...I might have misspoke today over the phone, but I looked back at my planner and it was Thursday. He flew out and returned Friday night."

What are his reasons for going to Virginia?
"Not anything in particular. Yesterday, when I spoke to him, he said, `they obviously offered a great package. You know brand new arena, in the ACC and all that.' It wasn't necessarily the money because, when he was staying, he told me he wanted to give back $100,000 of his contract and invest it into the program. I felt good where he was yesterday and moving forward with the program. Yeah, there was probably financially....the offer, I'm sure, was an attractive one. With that, a new arena, new challenges, I think he felt that it was best for him to move at this time. You'll have to ask him about that."

How prepared were you for this this year?
"I felt, none of you were speculating, but I felt more of a threat this year than last year even. Someone is going to be looking for a great coach and come and approach him. It was quick. When Virginia talked to me, they said they would be doing something within five days, whatever they were going to do. Obviously, from the past couple years, it is not a surprise. I can't say I'm prepared, but I am prepared and President Floyd (will be) really involved this weekend. We want to act quickly and make this a short period of time where we don't have a head coach."

Do you have any possible candidates?
"Yeah, I have started to have somewhat a list. We will continue to gather names and be talking to people as quickly as we can."

Are you trying to find a coach with a similar style of play?
"Yeah I think that...The Pac-10 has evolved since the Bennetts arrived. When Dick first arrived, we were more of a run-and-gun conference so it was more of an anomaly. But now, with (UCLA's Ben) Howland and (Arizona State's Herb) Sendek and (USC's Tim) Floyd... (California's Mike) Montgomery back, people want to control the ball. I think it has been successful at Washington State and we will continue to look for that. I think a person with experience as a head coach that knows their system and believes in their system, but probably similar defensively with what we're doing. I can't say for sure, but we'll know that more when we get through our last..."

Are you planning to hire a current assistant coach?
"Not at this time."

What is the status of the assistant coaches?
"I don't know for sure. No one has resigned as of yet. Their contract runs until June 30th and they will be paid until they have another job."

Is there going to be an assistant coach stepping up to lead until a coach is hired?
"Yeah, I am meeting with them tomorrow. Obviously, very quick here...Coach (Mike) Heideman is our Director of Operations, and a very capable individual, both on the academic front and then physically what's going on. We have our strength coaches. So they'll continue as far as the physical development and academic development. We have that in place and will continue to do that."

Did you talk to the team?
"I didn't. I was not on campus today, but President Floyd met with them right after Coach Bennett spoke to them. Obviously (they are) upset (and) did not want something like this to happen. It came very quickly and unexpected so they're in that shock mode, I think, right now."

He had a $400 buyout is that still enforced and the other one is, the retention bonus he was supposed to get March 15th?
"Yes to both of those. The buyout is still in place and they (Virginia) will be paying that. As far as the retention bonus, yes. That was as of March 15th. We kind of spread some of that salary throughout and it is more the work of the previous year, not moving forward. That was why that was for that date."

How many years are left on his contract...
"It was to end March 31st, 2015."

How is the program moving forward?
"I think we've been best in advancing the program...in facilities. In this last year alone, we invested a million dollars in salaries, facilities, development, travel and those kinds of things. I don't expect us to go backwards. I think we will be paying competitively what the person's experience and market value, we will be fair with that. We will try to be as attractive as possible."

Did budget concerns have an effect on Bennett's decision?
"No I don't think so at all."

Will the new coach retain any assistants?
"We may retain assistants. There are a lot of people that used Coach Bennett's, Dick Bennett's, philosophy on defense. There are probably a lot of prodigies out there that we'll be talking to. It's not necessarily that different because a lot of people have adopted the way they play defense. It is not unusual. "

Does Tony's offer to donate $100 thousand mean there are pressing needs for the basketball program?
"He is a guy...the president, we had told him `no' a month ago, basically. He was that kind of person... The president, as you know, with his proposed increase, had turned it down. Tony felt, just with the budget challenges that the rest of the campus and everyone were in, he wanted to do something to give back to the program."

Did Tony explain what changed his mind?
"No, just that he and (his wife) Laurel had sleepless nights and they had changed their mind and felt like this was what they should do at this point in time. He was very gracious and thanked me for the opportunity and the support we had given. You will have to talk to Tony about all that, but that was the conversation. It was not why he was going per se. It was just that he had made that decision to go."

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