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Originally published Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 4:22 PM

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Washington hires Kevin McGuff as women's basketball coach

McGuff, 41, becomes the first male coach in the program's 37-year history. He previously coached at Xavier, compiling a 214-73 record in nine seasons.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The itch started two years ago.

Kevin McGuff was happy coaching women's basketball at Xavier, a Jesuit school 30 miles from his native Hamilton, Ohio, but he began to wonder how his style would translate outside his comfort zone. It just had to be the right fit.

Apparently, that's Washington.

Athletic director Scott Woodward announced Sunday that McGuff will be UW's new women's coach, finalizing a five-year deal late Saturday night. McGuff, 41, becomes the first male coach in the Huskies' 37-year history.

"I didn't want to go just anywhere," said McGuff via phone from Cincinnati. "It had to be a place where it would be a tremendous opportunity to raise a family and a place where I could continue to grow professionally.

"Scott really impressed me with his passion for wanting women's basketball to achieve and how important it is to the department. After that meeting, I really had a great feeling about it. It further convinced me that Washington was a place I could go to really build something special."

McGuff had talks with Wisconsin while Woodward interviewed other coaches, notably Gonzaga's Kelly Graves. But Woodward decided on McGuff.

And at $475,000 annually plus incentives, McGuff is the highest-paid coach in UW women's basketball history.

McGuff replaces Tia Jackson, who signed a five-year deal worth a guaranteed $280,000 annually in 2007 under former AD Todd Turner. Jackson resigned on March 14, never achieving a winning season in her four years.

"To hire a sitting head coach, you're going to pay market value and that's what we did," said Woodward regarding the pay increase. "We want to be competitive and we want to be good. But what I want is a solid foundation built. We've been out of postseason play a long time, and I want to see progress seen on an incremental level. I know he knows how to do it."

McGuff knows how to recruit in the area, having gotten Bellarmine Prep senior guard Sarah Hartwell to commit to Xavier. He intimated Hartwell would honor her letter of intent.

As for winning, McGuff is the most successful coach in Xavier hoops history, compiling a 214-73 record in nine seasons with six trips to the NCAA tournament. The second-seeded Musketeers were eliminated by Louisville in the second round of the tournament this season.

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McGuff's teams are known as physical and fast with an emphasis on defense and rebounding. With Washington, he'll inherit a defensive-minded squad that only loses one senior as UW transitions into Pac-12 play.

"I'm really big on identity," said McGuff, who'll be formally introduced Tuesday. "A great example of that is the UW men's basketball team in coach (Lorenzo) Romar. You can watch them play and see they have a specific style, and that their players understand what they're supposed to be doing and how they're going to have success. We may not have the same style, but I want people to watch us and say, 'Hey, I can see how they're going to have success.' "

McGuff isn't set on his staff, waiting to see if any of his assistants replace him at Xavier before possibly bringing them to UW. Part of Jackson's former support staff could also be retained.

"There's just so much potential," McGuff said. "Everything just really fit, and I'm excited to get started."

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com

Winning history
Kevin McGuff's coaching record at Xavier:
Year Record Postseason
2002-03 20-10 NCAA (0-1)
2003-04 17-13 WNIT (0-1)
2004-05 22-10 WNIT (2-1)
2005-06 21-9 WNIT (1-1)
2006-07 26-8 NCAA (0-1)
2007-08 24-9 NCAA (0-1)
2008-09 25-7 NCAA (0-1)
2009-10 30-4 NCAA (3-1)
2010-11 29-3 NCAA (1-1)
9 years 214-73 7-9

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