Kelly Graves to remain at Gonzaga
Kelly Graves wasn't actively seeking a new gig. When the Pac-10 Conference came calling -- specifically Washington -- about a head coaching position, Graves felt it only right to listen.
What he heard wasn't enough to persuade him to leave what he's built into one of the top programs on the West Coast at Gonzaga.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday afternoon, Graves said he has decided to remain at Gonzaga after brief discussions with Washington about its coaching opening.
"I really didn't have any intentions on leaving, but I was intrigued," Graves said.
Graves is coming off a stirring run by his Bulldogs to the Elite Eight, where they fell to Stanford 83-60 in the Spokane Regional final last Monday night. As a No. 11 seed, Gonzaga beat Iowa, UCLA and Louisville -- all games played in Spokane before capacity crowds and led by point guard Courtney Vandersloot -- before losing to the Cardinal in the regional final.
But two days after losing to Stanford, Graves was spotted on the Washington campus on Wednesday. He poked his head inside Washington's indoor football facility while Jake Locker and the rest of Washington's pro prospects worked out for NFL scouts.
Graves said he was already headed to Seattle for business and when Washington called asking to have some discussions about their opening, the opportunity piqued Graves' interest.
He went back home to Spokane on Wednesday evening secure that Gonzaga is where he wanted to stay.
"The reality is I'm really happy here," Graves said.
Graves' name was linked with the Washington job almost immediately after Tia Jackson announced her resignation earlier this month after four lackluster seasons. Once a permanent resident among the top of the Pac-10, Washington has two winning seasons since 2004-05. Washington hasn't been ranked in the AP Top 25 since late in the 2003 season.
A Washington spokesman said Thursday the school would not comment on its coaching search.
It might have eased Graves' decision that a contract extension with Gonzaga had already been finalized even before the Bulldogs' NCAA run. Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said during the regionals that the school has tried to be proactive when it comes to its coaches and tried not to react based off interest from others.
The extension is expected to be formally announced soon.
Graves completed his 11th season at Gonzaga and is 232-119 with the Bulldogs, including seven straight West Coast conference titles. He said he doesn't view being talked to by a school from a major conference as validation for what he's helped build at Gonzaga.
"It's nice when people notice and want to talk to you or become interested," Graves said. "This is a great place and a great community."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press