Jim Hayford
Jim Hayford
Phone: 509.359.2497
Email: jhayford@ewu.edu
Previous College: Azusa Pacific '90
Position: Head Coach
Experience: 5th Season

A four-year climb for Jim Hayford and his Eastern Washington University men’s basketball program was confirmed with the regular season co-championship in the Big Sky Conference. But the Eagles scaled one more peak under Hayford, who was selected by the league’s head coaches as the co-Coach of the Year, by winning three games and capturing the Big Sky Conference Tournament title.

Eastern beat Idaho and Sacramento State by identical 91-83 scores before rallying from 11 points down with six minutes to play to stun host Montana 69-65 in the title game. The win advanced Hayford to his seventh NCAA Tournament, including the previous six (2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) at NCAA Division III Whitworth. After an 84-74 loss to Georgetown, Hayford is 7-8 in NCAA postseason games.

Hayford, whose team finished the 2014-15 season with its most victories in NCAA Division I history with a 26-9 record, shared the coach of the year honor with Sacramento State’s Brian Katz. Just two short seasons earlier, Hayford’s team was the youngest in NCAA Division I and finished 10-21 overall and 7-13 in the Big Sky. And in 2013-14 his senior-less squad was edged out by the Hornets for the sixth and final berth in the tourney when both teams finished 10-10 in Big Sky play.

 “This is a great honor,” said Hayford, who is now 320-146 (.687) in his 15-plus seasons as a collegiate head coach. “What makes it very special is that I am sharing it with one of my best friends and colleagues, Brian Katz.  I am also pleased that it shines a light on the great work done by the members of our coaching staff, who are tireless workers. Above all, players win games and our players won enough games that we could be recognized. They earned this award for EWU, my staff and I.”

Steve Aggers (1998, 2000) and Ray Giacoletti (2004) have previously won Big Sky Coach of the Year honors for the Eagles since joining the Big Sky Conference in the 1987-88 season. The 2000 and 2004 teams are the only others to win regular season Big Sky titles in school history, and the 2004 squad is the only other BSC Tournament winner.

Eastern joined the 2003-04 EWU squad in advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The 2002-03 team advanced to the NIT for EWU’s only other national postseason appearance in 32 seasons as a member of NCAA Division I.

More importantly, Eastern's consistency as a basketball program continues to grow. The Eagles have 66 victories overall, 39 league wins and four Big Sky Tournament triumphs under Hayford, and the 26 victories last season are the fourth-most in the 50+ year history of the league. Eastern also lost NCAA Division I leading scorer Tyler Harvey to the NBA – something that has happened only once previously in school history to a player with eligibility remaining.

Eastern clinched its third Big Sky regular season title in 28 seasons as a Big Sky member when it rallied from 19 points down to beat Weber State 79-71 in overtime on March 7. With a 14-4 league record, Eastern won its most games in 28 seasons as a member of the Big Sky. Eastern’s 11-6 record on the road and 9-4 non-conference record in the 2014-15 season were also program bests in the school’s NCAA Division I history.

“There are a lot of families behind our players who believed in the vision,” said Hayford, whose team was the 22nd most improved in NCAA Division I. “We weren’t selling them success, we were selling them a vision and they trusted their boys to us. I credit them. And my own personal family has made a lot of sacrifices, so my heart is out to Robin, Jayme and Joe for all their support.”

The triumphs in 2014-15 included victories over six different NCAA Division I conferences, including road wins at Indiana, San Francisco and Seattle. Eastern was ranked as high as 12th in the national mid-major poll, and as high as 50th in the RPI. The Eagles concluded its home schedule with a crowd of 4,621 against Montana to rank as the fourth-most in school history and the most in 15 years.

Eastern’s heart-stopping 88-86 victory at Big Ten Conference member Indiana Nov. 24 will go down as one of the greatest victories in school history after the Eagles snapped the nation’s third-longest non-conference home court winning streak at 43 in front of 11,636 Hoosier fans at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. It was the first-ever win for the Eagles in 14 tries against a Big Ten Conference opponent.

In all, 18 school records and one Big Sky mark were broken in the 2014-15 season, thanks to a productive offense that ranked third in NCAA Division I with an average of 80.6 points per game and fifth in 3-pointers per game with a 9.8 average.

Entering the 2015-16 season, Hayford was selected by College Sports Madness as its preseason Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year. Additionally, Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports rated him as one of the top 21 offensive coaches in all of NCAA Division I.

We play a wide-open style of offense,” said Hayford. “It’s a style that’s fun to play, fun to recruit to, fun to coach and fun to watch. I think it’s a style that is scary because we can go out and make 15, 16 or 17 3-pointers in a game. That’s really hard to defend.”

Individually, Tyler Harvey led NCAA Division I in scoring (23.1) and 3-pointers (4.0) per game, and was eventually taken in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic as the 51st pick overall. He also earned honorable mention All-America honors and was a first team Academic All-America selection. He had Venky Jois earned first team All-Big Sky accolades for the Eagles, and point guard Drew Brandon was honorable mention. Harvey was also MVP of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

After spending 10 seasons building nearby Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., into a NCAA Division III powerhouse, Hayford was announced as Eastern’s new head men’s basketball coach on March 29, 2011. He is Eastern’s 17th head coach in history and ninth at the NCAA Division I level (since 1983-84).

In his tenure at the helm of the Pirates, Hayford had a record of 217-57 and a winning percentage of .792. He was the Northwest Conference Coach of the Year five times, and twice was honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the West Region Coach of the Year.

Hayford coached the Pirates to eight 20-win seasons, six appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament (including the last five seasons in a row), five Northwest Conference titles, three NCAA DIII Sweet 16 appearances (2008, 2010, 2011) and one Elite Eight appearance (2011).

In Hayford’s final two years at Whitworth, the Pirates were 54-5 overall and 31-1 in league play. Whitworth was ranked 21-consecutive times in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings over Hayford’s final three seasons at Whitworth. At the time he left Whitworth, his career winning percentage ranked among the top 10 among all active NCAA Division III coaches.

Hayford and his wife, Robin, have a daughter, Jayme (20), and son, Joseph (17). Jayme is a college student at Arizona State University, and Joseph attends Gonzaga Prep in Spokane.


Steady Progress Made in First Three Seasons at EWU . . .

Even before the breakthrough 2014-15 season, the Eagles were on the cusp of greatness. Despite finishing a victory shy of a Big Sky Conference Tournament berth, the Eagles finished the 2013-14 season with three more league wins and five more victories overall than the year before. Eastern established eight school records in the 2013-14 season, including one league mark.

Eastern was 7-4 in its last 11 league games to help EWU finish 15-16 overall and 10-10 in the league. The 15 victories equaled the most for the Eagles in 10 years since EWU finished 17-13 in the 2003-04 season.

The Eagles had no seniors on its 2013-14 roster, and were led by sophomores Harvey and Jois. Harvey was a first team All-Big Sky selection and earned second team honors on the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 6 team – EWU’s first player honored on that team since Rodney Stuckey in 2007. Jois earned honorable mention accolades for the second-straight year, as well as being the 2012-13 Freshman of the Year in the league.

The Eagles made great strides in Hayford’s first season at the helm in 2011-12. He led the school to its most successful season in six years and concluded the season 15-17 overall and 8-8 in the Big Sky Conference to place fourth.

His team improved by five victories from the year before, as the Eagles equaled their most wins since Eastern made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004. The Eagles won their first postseason game since 2006, beating Idaho State in the quarterfinals (81-75) before falling to eventual champion Montana (74-66) in the semifinals.

In addition, Eastern won six road games – its most since EWU won seven in the 2002-03 season and six the year after. And Eastern’s average attendance of 2,286 was double the 1,101 average of the 2010-11 season when EWU finished 10-20 overall and 7-9 in the league. Eastern’s crowds of 3,617 versus Montana State on Jan. 28 and 3,512 against Montana on Jan. 26 ranked ninth and 10th, respectively, on EWU’s all-time list of single game recorded attendance.

And for the first time since 2006, the Eagles also had their first non-losing conference season and hosted and won their first game in the Big Sky Conference Championship.

“I’m really proud of our players, and proud of the season we had,” said Hayford, who has also had tremendous fund-raising success through his Sixth-Man Club. “We advanced Eastern Basketball further than it had in a long time, and that’s what I want our players to hang their hat on.”

In his first two years, Hayford had players earn some of the highest honors they can win in the league. In his first season, his players were honored on the All-Big Sky Conference first team (Cliff Colimon), BSC All-Tournament squad (Colimon) and Big Sky Newcomer of the Year (Collin Chiverton) – only the third such honor for an Eagle and the first since 2002.

The continued development of young players was the focus in the 2012-13 season, including six freshmen/sophomores who each started at least three games with a collective total of 97 starts. In 2012-13, freshman sensation Venky Jois was selected as the Big Sky Freshman of the Year, becoming just the fifth Eagle to win the award. He also earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors from the coaches.


After 10 Years at Whitworth, Relationships Continue . . . 

In his 10 years at Whitworth, Hayford developed solid relationships on a number of levels. Most notably, with his players.

“The basis of my coaching is a highly-relational style,” he explained. “We want our players to be solid and comfortable in their relationship with me – there needs to be give-and-take, feedback and communication going both ways. The days of a coach doing all the talking and the players doing all the listening is over.

“I’m consistent at finding out what is their best and what they consider excellence, and then hold them to that every day that I coach them,” he continued. “By developing consistency and relationships, insisting on excellence and being able to do things together, we’re going to create a culture where this is a true team. We need to be sold on each other, committed to each other and we need to be able to count on each other. That will be the strength of our program.”

Those relationships extend to the high school coaching community.

“When you live in one place for 10 years, you get to know all of the high school coaches in the state and the region,” he said. “Those relationships transfer. While teams at the Division I level were recruiting one player on a particular team, I was building a great relationship with that coach recruiting another player on that team.”



Hayford’s 2010-11 Whitworth Squad Led by Current Eagle Assistant David Riley and Former Eagle Michael Taylor . . .

Whitworth spent three weeks in the 2010-11 season ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings, including the top ranking at the end of the regular season. The Pirates set a school record for victories and winning percentage in finishing 28-2 (.933), and ended the season ranked fifth nationally after losing at Wooster 76-66 on March 12, 2011. Whitworth advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final (Elite Eight) for the first time in school history, while making its fifth-straight NCAA DIII Tournament appearance. The Pirates also claimed their fifth-straight NWC Tournament title.

Leading the way in Whitworth’s sensational 2010-11 season was David Riley and Michael Taylor. Riley, now an Eastern assistant coach, played for Hayford from the 2007-08 season through 2010-11, earning All-Northwest Conference accolades all four years. Riley earned first team All-NWC honors his final three seasons as a Pirate after starting 112 of 114 games in his career. He finished with 1,664 points (14.6 per game) to rank fourth in Whitworth history and made 43.1 percent of his three-point attempts (300-of-696). He averaged 16.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a senior when he earned third team All-Region (D3hoops.com) honors.

Taylor is a former Eastern player who averaged 5.7 points and 1.9 assists when he started for EWU as a true freshman in the 2006-07 season. In his lone season playing for the Pirates in 2010-11, he was named the D3hoops.com Men’s Player of the Year and was named a first-team All-American by D3hoops.com and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

In addition, Taylor was previously named the NABC West Region Player of the Year, D3hoops.com West Region Player of the Year and Northwest Conference Player of the Year in his only season with the Pirates. He led the team in scoring average (20.3 points per game to rank second in the NWC) and led the Northwest Conference in both free throw percentage (.884) and three-point percentage (.528). He also led the Pirates in assists (3.5 per game to rank third in the NWC). After playing one season at EWU, Taylor transferred to the University of Montana where he was a key contributor off of the bench in two seasons.

In 2009-10, the Pirates put together a school-record 25-game winning streak and finished unbeaten in the Northwest Conference (16-0) en route to a final record of 26-3. The Pirates finished ranked seventh in the D3hoops.com poll.

In 2008-09, Hayford led the Pirates to a 23-6 record and a runner-up finish in the NWC standings. Whitworth then made their fourth national tournament appearance by virtue of winning the NWC Tournament championship game. Whitworth accomplished that despite the graduation of two first-team All-NWC selections, including the conference’s Player of the Year (Ryan Symes), following the ‘07-’08 season.

During the 2007-08 season, Hayford coached Whitworth to its second-consecutive Northwest Conference title and second-straight appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament, where the Pirates advanced to the Sectional Semifinals (third round). Whitworth finished 21-7 overall and Hayford earned his third NWC Coach of the Year award.

In 2006-07, he led Whitworth to a 24-4 record and a conference title, earning his second NWC Coach of the Year honor. His team set the school record for single-season winning percentage (.857), which was later broken by the 2009-10 squad (26-3, .897) and his final team in 2010-11 (28-2, .933). The Pirates advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing at the eventual third-place finisher by only two points.

He coached the Pirates to a 20-7 record and to within a game of the NCAA Tournament in the 2005-06 season. The 2004-05 season may have been Hayford’s greatest challenge, but also possibly his greatest accomplishment. Rebuilding his team with only one returning starter, Hayford coached the Pirates to five-straight wins to end the season, turning an overall record of 8-11 and an NWC mark of 4-7 into 13-11 and 9-7 finishes.

The Pirates also just missed one of six at-large bids to the 2003-04 NCAA Division III Tournament after the team’s third straight top-two finish in the NWC and a 19-6 overall record.

In his second season (2002-03), he led Whitworth to a 23-4 record, a Northwest Conference title and an appearance in the 2003 NCAA Division III Tournament, earning his first Coach of the Year award. In his first season as the head coach at Whitworth in 2001-02, Hayford led the Pirates to a record of 20-7 and a second-place finish in the NWC. It was the second-best coaching debut in Whitworth men’s basketball history. The only coach to start better was Art Smith, whose 1954-55 team finished 21-4 and advanced to the NAIA Tournament.

The Pirates were 13-12 the season before he arrived.


Hayford 37-27 at Sioux Falls in First Collegiate Head Coaching Stop . . .

Prior to coming to Whitworth, Hayford was head coach at the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.), where he compiled a 37-27 record in two seasons. During his inaugural season (1999-2000), he led the Cougars to their first conference playoff appearance in five years. The team finished 15-15 after losing in the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference (SDIC) championship game. Hayford’s Cougars finished the 2000-01 season at 22-12 and lost to the eventual NAIA Division II champions (Northwestern College of Iowa) in double overtime in the Great Plains Athletic Conference championship game. His team set a school record for wins in a season. Prior to Hayford’s arrival, USF was 9-17 in 1998-99.

Hayford served as the top assistant coach at Azusa Pacific University (Calif.) from 1990-99, including eight seasons under Bill Odell. APU won seven consecutive Golden State Athletic Conference titles during that time and advanced to the NAIA Division I Final Four in each of his final two seasons there.

Hayford also coached at the high school level, leading Contra Costa Christian High School in 1987 and Berean Christian High School from 1988-1990.

Hayford earned his master’s degree in education from Claremont Graduate School in 1991. He earned his bachelor’s degree in social science from Azusa Pacific in 1989. He is a 1985 graduate of Berean Christian, which is located in Walnut Creek, Calif.


Jim Hayford’s Head Coaching Career







Sioux Falls





Sioux Falls




Totals at Sioux Falls (2 seasons)























































Totals at Whitworth (10 seasons)




127-33 .794


Eastern Wash.





Eastern Wash.





Eastern Wash.





Eastern Wash.




Totals at Eastern (4 seasons)





Totals as Head Coach (16 seasons)





***Season concluded with NCAA Division III Tournament berth.

^^^Season concluded with Big Sky Conference Tournament berth.

!!!School record for victories (since becoming a member of NCAA Division I) and Big Sky Conference wins.


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