The University of Washington has hired longtime Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins as its next head coach, the school confirmed on Sunday.
I’m extremely excited to welcome Mike and his family to Seattle,” Washington athletics director Jennifer Cohen said in a statement. “His résumé and reputation within the basketball community made him stand out to us, but ultimately it was his vision for Washington, his passion for teaching and developing student-athletes and his close alignment with the core values of our institution and department that made it more than clear that he was the right fit for us.”
Hopkins, 47, had actually been Syracuse’s designated coach-in-waiting for the past couple of years, waiting on Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim to retire. But it appears he decided he grew tired of that waiting.
“The University of Washington is such a unique place, with a world-class university, an exciting basketball history and unbelievable fan support,” Hopkins said. “Together, I believe we can build something very special in Seattle, and I can’t wait to get started. ...
“I can’t express enough thanks to Coach Boeheim for so many years of mentorship and guidance. The timing is right for me and my family to make this move.”
Hopkins, a Southern California native, had been a finalist for the USC job back in 2013, and has interviewed for head coaching opportunities as far back as 2003. But until now, he’d always chosen to stay at Syracuse, his alma mater.
In a candid conversation with Syracuse.com after the USC process in 2013, Hopkins described feeling uncomfortable with the heir apparent assumption — and designation.
"My life is people asking me 'Does coach ever tell you when he's leaving?' or 'You've been there for a long time, aren't you tired of waiting?' or 'You want to stay and follow one of the greatest coaches?''' Hopkins said. "It's not all meant to be negative, but it's a lot of talk.''
He also made a comment about USC, but certainly applies to Washington as well.
"I'd never go to a place where I felt I couldn't win,'' Hopkins said in 2013. "That was a job that I felt with the right pieces and the right staff, I could've made it a national program.’’
Expect the same approach with the Huskies.