Giacoletti coached Eagles to NCAA berth
SALT LAKE CITY -- Eastern Washington coach Ray Giacoletti was hired Tuesday by Utah to replace the most successful basketball coach in school history.
Giacoletti replaces Rick Majerus, who took the Utes to 10 NCAA tournaments and the 1998 national title game but resigned in January because of poor health.
Giacoletti said Utah athletic director Chris Hill called him Tuesday morning and asked if he'd be interested.
"I didn't have to think very long about it to decide that I wanted it," he said Tuesday night.
He said Utah's program has been "an elite program in college basketball for a number of years. I'm just excited for the opportunity."
He said the number of years in the contract and the salary still were being worked out and he hoped to settle it all Wednesday.
Giacoletti is to be introduced at a news conference Wednesday.
Eastern Washington athletic director Scott Barnes said he learned Tuesday that negotiations were in progress and expected to be losing Giacoletti.
"They're going to get a young coach who is of great character and integrity. He will outwork everybody in the country," Barnes said. "He is a strong teacher and a relentless recruiter and I think is a guy that will endear himself to the community."
Utah also interviewed former Utes assistant Trent Johnson, who agreed to a contract extension at Nevada on Tuesday.
Giacoletti, 41, was 69-50 with Eastern Washington, taking the Eagles to the Big Sky Conference tournament title game in each of his four seasons.
This season, the Eagles won the league's regular season title, then clinched the automatic NCAA berth by beating Northern Arizona 71-59 in the championship game.
Giacoletti also went 48-33 in three seasons at North Dakota State.
Majerus announced at the end of January that he was resigning in his 15th season. He had experienced severe chest pains and went to California to be treated by his cardiologist, leaving the Utes to assistant Kerry Rupp.
Utah finished 9-4 under Rupp and won the Mountain West Conference tournament. They lost to Boston College in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Rupp, a former Utah high school coach who had been on Majerus' staff three years, said last week that Hill planned to bring in a more experienced coach.
Washington State assistant Mike Burns, who was an assistant to Giacoletti at Eastern Washington for three seasons, is expected to be the leading candidate to replace Giacoletti. Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice is also expected to get consideration for the job.
Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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