SEATTLE – (Mar. 29) Jim Hayford has been named Seattle University’s men’s basketball head coach, Director of Athletics Shaney Fink announced Wednesday. Hayford comes to Seattle U from Eastern Washington University where he spent the last six years at the helm of the Eagles’ program.
Hayford, will be formally introduced at a press conference to be held tomorrow, Thursday, March 30, at 11:00 a.m. (PT) in the Student Center Hearth. Hayford will be the 17th head coach in Seattle University history.
“I am thrilled to welcome Coach Hayford and his family to Seattle University,” said Fink. “Coach Hayford has a history of success in developing programs that compete on the national level. He is a proven winner, a committed educator, and a passionate leader, and we are excited for him to bring that blueprint of success here to Seattle U.”
Hayford has 18 total seasons as a head coach, amassing an overall record of 360-175 (.673). He has stints at EWU, Whitworth (NCAA DIII) and Sioux Falls (NAIA). He has coached in nine national postseason tournaments, including six (2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) at NCAA Division III Whitworth and three at EWU (2015, 2016, 2017).
“It is a great honor to be asked to serve as the Head Basketball Coach at this great Jesuit Catholic institution,” said Hayford. “I humbly move into this position with a desire to lead a championship program that graduates outstanding leaders. The history of the basketball program here is rich and unique. We will work tirelessly to build a program that will return Seattle University to the NCAA Tournament.”
In 2016-17, Hayford completed his sixth season as the head coach at EWU, leading the Eagles to a 22-12 overall record and a 13-5 mark in Big Sky Conference play. In six seasons with Hayford at the helm, the Eagles went to the NCAA Tournament (2015), the CBI Tournament (2016, 2017), earned a Big Sky regular season co-championship (2015) and won the Big Sky Tournament title (2015). Under Hayford, the Eagles had one Big Sky Conference Player of the Year (Jacob Wiles, 2017), two Big Sky Freshmen of the Year, 12 All-Big Sky selections, seven National Association of Basketball (NABC) All-District selections, two Associated Press honorable mention All-Americans and one NBA Draft pick (Tyler Harvey, 2015).
In addition, the Eagles reached 20+ wins in two of the last three seasons (2015, 2017) and had at least 10 Big Sky Conference wins during the past three seasons (2015, 2016, 2017). That includes the top two win totals in 30 seasons as a member of the Big Sky with 14 victories in 2015 and 13 in 2017.
The building process at EWU hit its stride in 2014-15 when Hayford led the Eagles to a 26-9 mark, including a 14-4 Big Sky record. EWU went on to win the Big Sky Conference Tournament and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament – the first postseason appearance for the program since 2003-04. The team featured Tyler Harvey, who was the nation’s leader in scoring (23.1 ppg) and three-pointers made per game (4.0), and went on to be the program’s third all-time NBA Draft pick. For his efforts, Hayford was named Big Sky Co-Coach of the Year.
All told, 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.
The Eagles scaled one more peak in 2015-16, with the school’s first-ever victory in a national postseason tournament in 33 seasons as a member of NCAA Division I – a 79-72 win over Pepperdine in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.
Prior to 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.
He lived up to it, with the Eagles ranking in the top 25 in four team offensive categories in the 2015-16 season. The squad broke 17 school records, including 10 by senior Venky Jois. Jois closed his career as the all-time leading scorer in Eastern history with 1,803 points. Eastern finished 2015-16 ranked fifth in NCAA Division I with an average of 10.5 3-pointers made per game. Eastern also ranked 15th in NCAA Division I in scoring offense (81.4 points per game), 16th in overall field goal accuracy (48.3 percent) and 25th in accuracy from the 3-point stripe (38.5 percent).
Hayford’s EWU teams took their success from the court into the classroom and the community. In five seasons (not including 2016-17), Hayford coached 21 Big Sky All-Academic selections along with one CoSIDA Academic All-District and Academic All-America honoree in Harvey (2015).
Hayford’s Eagles have also been active in the community. For the last three years, Hayford and staff partnered the team with the Spokane Unified School District and the Boys and Girls Club to run a mentoring program called CHAMPS (College Headed and Making Progress).
“My first task at Seattle U is to come alongside these players and get to know them while doing all I can to aid them in becoming the best players, teammates, leaders and students that they can be,” said Hayford. “I have accepted this position because I feel the potential of this program is great and can capture the devotion of basketball fans in this great city. Thank you, Shaney Fink and Father Steve, for the opportunity to serve the students and community of Seattle University.”
Before taking over at Eastern Washington in March of 2011, Hayford spent 10 seasons building Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., into a NCAA Division III powerhouse.
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 NABC as the West Region Coach of the Year.
Taking over a program that went 25-24 in the two seasons prior (1999-01), 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). At the time he left Whitworth, his career winning percentage ranked among the top 10 among all active NCAA Division III coaches.
Prior 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. Hayford’s Cougars finished the 2000-01 season at 22-12, setting 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 earned his bachelor’s degree in social science from Azusa Pacific in 1989. He earned a master’s degree in education from Claremont Graduate School in 1991.
Hayford and his wife, Robin, have two adult children, daughter, Jayme, and son, Joseph.