BY SPNW Staff 08:38AM 04/03/2017

Neighbors bolts Huskies to coach Razorbacks

Mike Neighbors was willing to pay a $1 million buyout to leave Washington women’s hoops, which is also losing to graduation stars Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor.

After four seasons at Washington, Mike Neighbors was willing to pay a $1 million buyout to coach his home-state Arkansas Razorbacks. / Alan Chitlike, Sportspress Northwest

Mike Neighbors, who coached the University of Washington women’s basketball team to three NCAA appearances in the past four years, including a Final Four in 2016, bought his way out of his contract to return to his native Arkansas to coach the Razorbacks. The 47-year-old Neighbors must pay the Huskies $1 million under the terms of a buyout clause he signed last year.

“It’s more than a dream,” Neighbors said in a statement released by Arkansas Monday. “A lot of the time, things like this don’t live up to the expectations that you establish in your dreams. This will exceed it.”

Neighbors went 98-41 during his tenure at Washington and coached two of the greatest players in school history, Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor, both All-America selections. But both are graduating, along with two-year starter Katie Collier. So Neighbors is leaving as program that faces a rebuild.

At Arkansas, Jimmy Dykes resigned March 3 after a 13-17 record, including 2-14 in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference, which produced the finalists in NCAA championship game Sunday when South Carolina beat Mississippi State 67-55 (box). Dykes was 43-49 in three seasons.

Neighbors’ Washington contract paid him slightly more than $290,000 annually and was scheduled to expire after the 2022-23 season.




  • Howard Wells

    not happy to see him go. Not happy to see what he was paid (too low with no flexibility?) My women’s team is starting over at the same level as my men’s team. I wish my AD the best of luck.

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  • Buggy White

    He must really like Arkansas to pay a million dollars to go there!

  • jafabian

    The opportunity to go home is rare in sports, especially as a coach. Lorenzo Romar will attest that it doesn’t always work out the way you hope it will but understandable. Best wishes to Coach Neighbors and thanks for the memories.

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  • woofer

    Interesting. I wonder if this throws light on why Neighbors failed to use Plum and Osahor as a foundation for sustained top-tier recruiting. He’s leaving behind an empty cupboard.

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  • Bob Dean

    Arkansas fan here. Neighbors is divorced and has two growing children within a stone’s throw of the Arkansas campus. Seattle is a long, long way from those two children. How often has he been able to see those children with a 90-hour workweek as a college coach and being +2000 miles away? Would you give back in compensation and/or buyout to be close to those children? You sure would! That is really all you need to know right there.