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Three-time WIAA state champion, incoming hall of fame coach Rick Skeen leaving King's for Northwest University

Associate head coach Joe Stack, a 2014 King's graduate who played for Skeen at King's, takes over as his former coach's successor. Skeen leaves with a record of 236-59.

Three-time WIAA state championship coach Rick Skeen is fulfilling what he describes as a longtime dream to coach college basketball.

After leading King's to a state 1A runner-up finish in early March, Skeen accepted the job as head men's basketball coach at Northwest University in Kirkland, citing a desire to be at a level and school size where he could have a hand in everything from recruiting to player development and not have to uproot his life.

"I’ve loved my guys and I’ve loved what we built and I think the program’s ripe to have high levels of success," Skeen said, "but I felt like this was an opportunity I really wanted to pursue, give my all and build a program at the next level.”

Skeen is set to be inducted into the WIBCA hall of fame in July. He's been a high school head coach in Washington since 2000, starting with Burlington-Edison from 2000-2011 before taking the job at King's in 2011. 

He coached in nine state championship games, won 1A titles in 2015, 2016 and 2020 and finished state runner-up four times at King's, where he amassed a 236-59 record and was named SBLive's all-classification coach of the year in 2020. He was also at the helm when Corey Kispert, a college All-American at Gonzaga and the school's first NBA player, led the Knights to back-to-back 1A titles in 2013 and 2014.

He's tapped associate head coach Joe Stack as his successor and did not open the position. Stack, a 2014 King's graduate who played under Skeen, has spent four years on staff and both has the respect of players and embodies the culture of the program, Skeen said.

"He knew my desire to be the head coach at this school," Stack said. "I'm super honored. At the same time, no, they didn't open the job and it was Rick's decision. It put a chip on my shoulder too, I don't want people to think it was just handed to me, though at a base level it might look that way. I want to get after it, prove myself, do the right thing and model what Rick has been modeling for years."

The call from Northwest University first came late in the high school season. He put any deliberation around the job on hold until two days after the top-seeded Knights' 61-58 loss to Lynden Christian in the 1A state title

Skeen said he's pursued college jobs in the past. Though he'll remain in his vice principal role at King's and his position will be re-worked to allow him to coach at Northwest, he said the hardest part about leaving is saying goodbye to his players and coaching staff, which is tight-knit and includes three former players, including Stack, his successor.

"Those relationships, I think ultimately that's what coaching is all about — relationships with kids, coaches, parents, families," Skeen said. "I always tell kids memories last forever, that's the only thing they can't take from us. I'm an emotional guy, I'm a relational guy."

Northwest College (10-17, 7-15), an NAIA school, finished 10th in the Cascade Collegiate Conference this season.