Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Mike Neighbors hired as Arkansas women's coach
Washington head coach Mike Neighbors directs his team during the second half of a regional semifinal against Mississippi State in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Friday, March 24, 2017, in Oklahoma City. Mississippi State won 75-64. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas named Mike Neighbors its ninth women's basketball coach on Monday.
Neighbors, 48, was 98-41 record in four seasons at Washington and led the Huskies to the Final Four last year.
The Greenwood native and 1993 University of Arkansas graduate has routinely called coaching the Razorbacks his "dream job." He still has family in Arkansas, including two children.
"Everything I needed to know I learned right here in Fayetteville, Arkansas," Neighbors wrote in a letter posted to the Razorbacks' website. "I’m going to be able to share and point it out now that I’m living my dream. This is the dream job. It’s always been my dream job and everyone has known it.
"When I hear my name introduced, there will be a lot of people that will tell me my grandad would have been proud. I know how much this means to my family."
Washington was 29-6 this season and was eliminated by national runner-up Mississippi State in the Sweet 16. The Huskies have made the NCAA Tournament the past three seasons and Neighbors recruited and coached All-Americans Chantel Osahor and Kelsey Plum, the consensus national player of the year whose 3,527 career points are an NCAA record.
According to the Seattle Times, Arkansas must pay Washington $1 million to break Neighbors' contract, which ran through the 2022-23 season. Neighbors was paid $290,004 per year at Washington, according to the Times, but is expected to receive a sizable pay raise at Arkansas.
Jimmy Dykes, who resigned last month as Arkansas' coach, was paid $500,000 per year.
Neighbors has twice worked for the Arkansas women's program. He was director of operations under Gary Blair from 1999-2001 and an assistant coach for Susie Gardner in 2006-07.
Neighbors also has been an assistant coach at Tulsa, Colorado, Xavier and Washington before being promoted by the Huskies to his first college head coaching job in 2013.
Neighbors was a high school head coach at Bentonville and Cabot in the 1990s. In 1997 he led Bentonville to a state runner-up finish two seasons after the program had finished with a 1-24 record.
Arkansas is coming off a 13-17 season, including a program-worst 2-14 in SEC play. The Razorbacks ended the season on an 11-game losing streak.
Dykes, who played for the Razorbacks, was hired in 2014 despite having no experience coaching women's basketball or as a head coach. Prior to being hired at Arkansas, Dykes had not coached at any level in 23 years and was a longtime analyst for ESPN.
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