Athletic Director Pat Chun, for the fourth time in 16 months, has fired another head coach at Washington State.
Theo Lawson at The Spokesman-Review broke news Tuesday afternoon that Marty Lees was relieved of his duties with the baseball program. The report cited assistant coach Dan Spencer to serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season – a three-game series hosting of Arizona later this week starting May 23.
This begs the question, who will be heir to the throne? Realistically, it’s anybody’s guess. With the basketball program’s coaching turnover last March, it’s became increasingly clear that Chun’s connections and influence has reach beyond obvious school and regional ties.
And as for outside the box candidates proposed by those in the media and social networkers alike, Wally Backman – a Miracle Met and Hillsboro, Oregon native – may stand alone as the most intriguing despite his controversial past.
But Cougs are a prideful bunch. And if a in-house hire is to be made, look no further than the 509 as Chun wouldn’t even need to leave Pullman’s city limits to find his man.
Enter Mike Kinkade.
Kinkade has served Pullman High School the past two season as head coach on the diamond taking home back-to-back Great Northern League (GNL) pennants in the process. Kinkade played college ball at WSU from 1992-1995 where he set the school record for career hits at 304 and received All-American honors. His senior campaign also led WSU to their most recent conference championship in 1995.
A 9th round draft pick to Milwaukee later that year, Kinkade hit .256 over the course of his six-year big league career after receiving multiple All-Star bids in the minor leagues. Not to mention, the utility fielder earned a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Team USA.
This past season with Pullman, four Greyhounds earned First-Team GNL honors with two others receiving Second-Team nods according to Pullman HS’s official scorekeeper. His son, Konnor Kinkade, was named the league’s MVP.
Additionally, three outgoing seniors will continue their baseball careers at the college level. Destinations include Columbia Basin CC, Linfield College, and Cal State Bakersfield.
Mike Kinkade’s resume as a player speaks for itself, and it appears his success at Pullman HS displays an ability to not only lead a successful team but foster the growth of talent. Certainly a necessary quality for Lees’ successor considering the disconnect between the talent WSU has recruited and their lack of on-field success in recent years.
The jump from high school to a major division-one college, a powerhouse league like the Pac-12 no less, is not an easy task. But with Kinkade’s past as a player, one can imagine the gap is manageable as he isn’t just “some guy.”
As always under Chun, the search for WSU’s next head baseball coach begins immediately. However, don’t be shocked if Washington State happens to hunt on familiar footing. Because in this case, Mike Kinkade just makes sense.
(Top photo: Andrew Baertlein – Cougar Sports Network)