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Originally published Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 12:14 AM

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UW fires baseball coach Ken Knutson

Washington has fired baseball coach Ken Knutson after 17 seasons. He was 584-399-2 leading the Huskies.

The Associated Press

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Washington fired baseball coach Ken Knutson on Monday after 17 seasons, the last five of which ended with the Huskies in the bottom half of the Pac-10.

The university announced that the Huskies' all-time leader in wins and second head coach since 1977 will leave June 30. That will be five weeks after Washington finished the season 25-30 overall and 13-14 in the Pac-10. The Huskies ended the season on a five-game losing streak, including being swept at rival Washington State in the final, three-game series.

The Huskies haven't had a winning record inside the Pac-10 since 2004 -- even though they had reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum starring for them in '05 and '06.

Lincecum, who went back to visit the UW campus late last month when his Giants were in town to play the Seattle Mariners, heard the news Monday before San Francisco played the Oakland Athletics. And he was disappointed.

"He's the one who kept me, outside of my own wants and needs, close to home when I was deciding between three schools: Oregon State, Washington State and Washington," Lincecum said inside the visiting clubhouse at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. "He kind of let me do my thing, which is what a lot of coaches let me do. A lot of good things happened from that with the freedom I had.

"He was awesome and he's a great person. I still keep in touch with him."

Lincecum said he didn't call Knutson on Monday.

Knutson, a 1981 graduate of Washington, has spent the last 27 years as a player, assistant coach and head coach at the UW. He was 584-399-2 leading the Huskies, and 240-189 against the Pac-10. He won two conference titles and led Washington to six NCAA tournaments after replacing Bob McDonald in 1993.

Knutson had 76 players selected in the major league draft. Seven of the 15 former Huskies who have played in the majors played for Knutson.

"I have spent nearly my entire professional life at the UW," he said in a statement released by the university. "I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and having the opportunity to place my professional focus on growing my private business.

"I'm proud of everything the UW baseball program has accomplished during my years here. I have met some really awesome people and coached so many great players over the years. That's what I'll miss the most, for sure."

The program has long suffered from having facilities and conditions far below the standard set by the elite in the Pac-10 such as Arizona State and Stanford. The Huskies train and play early in the season in often miserable weather conditions, with winds howling into their modest lakeside stadium, while their conference rivals to the south enjoy warm sun and shiny facilities.

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Those have been far from prime recruiting conditions for the UW to stay competitive in the conference, which went back to 10 teams for baseball this season with Oregon reviving its program.

The UW is about to start privately financed renovations of Husky Ballpark that will include a new clubhouse for the team -- and its new coach.

Washington will begin searching for Knutson's successor immediately, a Huskies spokesman said Monday.

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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