Oregon Ducks Basketball – Ernie Kent
Known for his outstanding community service that includes extensive work with the March of Dimes, Ernie Kent is first a gentleman, leader, and mentor, as well as the all-time coaching wins leader (219) in the history of Oregon Basketball.
Born: January 22nd, 1955
Place of birth: Rockford, Illinois
Position: Assistant, Head Coach
Overall Coaching Record: 325-254
Playing Career and Early Coaching Years
Kent got it started at Oregon in 1973, under then head coach, Dick Harter where he played for the group known as the, “Kamikaze Kids.” ‘Twas a nickname the team earned due to outstanding hustle, along with an extremely aggressive style of play.
His own nickname was, “Million Moves,” but unfortunately Kent’s playing career was cut short due to knee injuries throughout his college years.
Willing to do anything to stay involved at some level with the sport, his first head coaching job was in Saudi Arabia for the Al-Khaleej Club.
“I worked seven years in Saudi Arabia coaching and my paycheck was on one side of the table and my passport on the other, and they said to me, ‘You can’t leave and you won’t get paid if you don’t win.’ I think I’ve handled pressure. I would go to the games and there would be a young Saudi with a submachine gun outside the game. That’s pressure. This, this is just basketball.”
After making it back to the states in one piece, Kent bounced around between assistant jobs at Colorado State and Stanford before landing his first college head coaching gig at Saint Mary’s College of California.
It was at Saint Mary’s where his personal attitude toward his team took a drastic shift after he was told by his players that they could not relate to him. So he began team-building by putting together yearly retreats before each season.
Did it work?
Well, Kent remained at St. Mary’s for six years. His first five years were very average aside from the ’94-’95 season in which he finished 18-10, and second in the league before taking the Gaels to the NCAA Tournament with a 23-8 mark in his final season.
On to Oregon
In 1997, Kent was named head coach of the Oregon Ducks, where he may be best known for two reasons.
First, he led the school to a Pac 10 title, and two Elite Eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament in the 2001 and 2006 seasons.
The other reason is on the recruiting front as he was highly criticized for missing out on Kyle Singler and Kevin Love in 2007.
Instead, they chose to go elsewhere and Kent could not recover from those losses.
During his time with the Ducks, Kent compiled a 235-174 record with the team, but could only manage a 109-125 mark in league play.
He did lead them to five NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 seasons, but failed to make the second round in three of them.
Unfortunately, for Ducks fans, he was let go after the 2009-2010 season, in which the Ducks finished tied for eighth in the league.
In the case of Kent, Sometimes winning, outweighs being a class act.
Check out Matt Martz’ Northwest Coach Profile of Oregon Ducks’ FOOTBALL Coach Chip Kelly HERE!