Monday, April 17, 2017
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Central Washington University Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jeff Harada has resigned his position at Central Washington to become the head coach for the California State University Fullerton’s women’s basketball program, an NCAA Division I institution.
In three seasons at the helm of the Wildcats, Harada compiled a 44-42 record, 27 of which came in GNAC play. The Wildcats made the Great Northwest Athletic Conference postseason tournament in every year of Harada’s tenure. In the 2016-17 season the Wildcats upset Simon Fraser University in the GNAC tournament’s opening round after the Clan had been ranked as high as No. 20 in Division II.
“Jeff has been instrumental in changing the culture, mentality, and expectations of our women's basketball program, on and off the court,” CWU Director of Athletics Dennis Francois said. “We are a much different program than we were three years ago and I am confident that we will be able to attract another great coach to lead and mentor our student-athletes. We never like to lose a good coach, but Cal State Fullerton is a great personal and professional opportunity for Jeff and we wish him the very best.”
Prior to Harada, the Wildcats had won only 25 games in three years, only 11 of which came in conference. Central had never made the GNAC postseason before Harada’s tenure.
“Definitely bittersweet as I will always remember and cherish my time here in Ellensburg,” Harada said. “CWU is a first class institution with first class employees and there are so many people with whom I’ve worked, coached and interacted with during my time here who I can whole heartedly call friends for life. I would like to express a very sincere thank you to Dennis Francois who took a chance on me as well as all the players who I’ve been fortunate to have mentored and coached the last three years. Also to everyone who has embraced and blessed me with their support of the women’s basketball program, I cannot thank you enough. The opportunity for me to take the next step in my career path to achieve my life long goals as well as get closer to home could not have been possible without Central Washington University and the support of Wildcat Nation.”
Under Harada, the Wildcats earned two GNAC Freshman of the Year accolades, five GNAC All-Conference selections, and 14 GNAC All-Academic selections. Prior to Harada’s arrival, the Wildcats had just seven All-GNAC selections.
Before coming to Central Washington, Harada served as an assistant coach at the United States Naval Academy and as the head coach at Hawaii Pacific University.
Cal State Fullerton finished the 2016-17 campaign with a record of 4-25 and a 1-15 record in the Big West Conference.
“While it’s always difficult to say goodbye, I know the program is in a much better place than when I inherited it and I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish, setting records and making history along the way,” Harada acknowledged. “The foundation has been laid and I know women’s basketball, as well as the entire athletics department, under President Gaudino and Dennis Francois’ leadership will continue to grow and blossom. Go Wildcats!”
A search for Harada's replacement will begin immediately. In the interim, Assistant Coach Randi Richardson will oversee the day-to-day operations of the program.