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WMU basketball coach Steve Hawkins out after 17 seasons

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Long-time Western Michigan men's basketball coach Steve Hawkins is out of a job, following 17 seasons leading the program in Kalamazoo.

Hawkins, 57, was in the final year of his contract, and it was another rough season for Hawkins and Western Michigan, which finished 13-19 and 6-12 in the Mid-American Conference. The Broncos were 8-24 and 2-16 last season. Both campaigns were marred by a variety of injuries.

Western Michigan basketball coach Steve Hawkins

 "We appreciate all the contributions he and his family have made to our university and the Kalamazoo community," Western athletic diretcor Kathy Beauregard said as part of a three-paragraph statement. "Ultimately, I've decided to make a change in the leadership of the men's basketball program. Our search for a new head coach will begin immediately."

All eyes are expected to quickly turn to Michigan assistant coach Saddi Washington, a former Western Michigan star who long has been considered a head-coach-in-waiting.

Beauregard and Hawkins didn't immediately return messages from The News on Wednesday.

Hawkins' Western Michigan career spans 20 years. He was an assistant for three years under Robert McCullum. When McCullum left for South Florida, Hawkins was promoted. He found instant success, making the NCAA Tournament in his first as head coach, the 2003-04 campaign. His second year, they made the NIT.

The Broncos, under Hawkins, made the NCAA Tournament again in 2013-14, won eight MAC West championships and played in the postseason six times. But the team hasn't won 20 games since 2014-15.

Overall, he was 291-262 at Western, logging more wins than everybody but Herbert Read, who was 345-169 from 1922-49.

Only Oakland's Greg Kampe (1984-85) and Michigan State's Tom Izzo (1995-96) have longer tenure as head coaches at their school among Division I programs in Michigan.

Before arriving at Western, Hawkins was head coach at Division II Quincy in Illinois for nine seasons, making three NCAA Tournaments including the semifinals once.

A native of Ventura, Calif., Hawkins played at South Alabama.

Prior to the start of this season, Hawkins told The News his tenure at Western has been "one of those marriages made in heaven for really all of us."

Hawkins' contract was set to expire May 31. He earned $385,000, before bonuses.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984