MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho head men’s basketball coach Don Verlin announced the hiring of Kirk Earlywine on Friday as the team’s Director of Player Development.
Earlywine is a 26-year college coaching veteran whose latest stop was a four-year tenure as the head coach at Eastern Washington University from 2007-11, where he registered a 42-78 record.
In his time at EWU, his team had a 964 APR score and a 100 percent graduation rate and in 2011, the team qualified for its first Big Sky Conference Tournament in a five-year span, despite being one of the youngest in the country.
“We are very pleased to be able to add someone of Kirk’s experience and knowledge to our staff,” Verlin said on Friday. “He is going to have a tremendous impact on the individual development of our players.”
Earlywine’s role on the staff will be focused on individual player skills development outside of practice. He will be charged with creating individual workouts and drills from a skills standpoint, and will do video analysis and review with the players.
His assistant experience includes a seven-year tenure under Rick Majerus at Ball State (1987-89) and Utah (1989-93), a seven-year stop as associate head coach at Weber State from 1999-2006. In his time at WSU, the Wildcats led the Big Sky Conference with 116 wins over that span, including a 2003 Big Sky title and NCAA Tournament bid.
“I’ve known coach Verlin going back to the late 80s, early 90s when I was an assistant at Utah and he was at Colorado State, then when he was at Utah State and I was at Weber State,” Earlywine said. “I’ve known him a long time and I’m fortunate that he thinks enough of me to hire me and I’m excited to get going.
“There’s no question this team is going in the right direction and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Earlywine served as a student assistant at Campbell University from 1985-87. He also has assistant coaching stops at Central Michigan and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a one-year tenure as head coach of NCAA Division II Pfeiffer University, which he led to a 21-8 record and a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the team’s first season at the NCAA D-II level.
In the 2011-12 season, Earlywine did television play-by-play work and spent time visiting coaching staffs around the nation. He said his time as a broadcaster and his travels gave him newer perspectives and reinvigorated his passion for the sport.
“What I learned most from the past year was how much I really love coaching,” Earlywine said. “Sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, it beats you down a bit and you forget how much you love it.”
In addition to Earlywine’s addition, Verlin also announced that Chris Helbling, who has been a member of the Vandal staff since 2008, was promoted from director of men’s basketball operations to assistant coach.