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Originally published April 17, 2013 at 8:02 PM | Page modified April 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM

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Huskies have already contacted possible candidates to replace women's basketball coach Kevin McGuff

Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said the search to replace women's basketball coach Kevin McGuff will begin immediately. McGuff left the Huskies to be the coach at Ohio State.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said he'd immediately begin a nationwide search for a replacement for former women's basketball coach Kevin McGuff.

Woodward's staff has already contacted candidates but has not set a timetable for an announcement. McGuff was named Tuesday as Ohio State's coach.

McGuff signed a contract extension with UW through the 2020 season in March after two 20-win seasons. His base salary was $475,000. McGuff, 43, is expected to make nearly $1 million per season at Ohio State, which will pay the $1.75 million buyout that McGuff owed UW.

Although Woodward would neither confirm nor deny potential hires, among the candidates to replace McGuff is former Seattle Pacific player Lynne Roberts, who led Pacific (27-8) to its first regular-season Big West title and defeated Washington 85-78 in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament this year.

Former Texas coach Gail Goestenkors, who resigned in 2012, and McGuff's former assistant coaches Mike Neighbors, Kevin Morrison and Adia Barnes are also possible candidates. Neighbors, Morrison and Barnes have 30 days remaining in their current contracts after McGuff's departure.

Goestenkors has an all-time 498-163 coaching record and made about $1.2 million, including bonuses, at Texas, according to figures released in 2011. She resigned because she said her heart wasn't into coaching at the time, but has since interviewed for other positions.

"It's a lot to pay and I don't think we will," Woodward said of joining the ranks of Connecticut, Baylor and Rutgers in signing coaches to million-dollar contracts. "You never say never, but we try to be competitive in the marketplace and I think that's what we'll do going forward."

Another pressing issue to make a hire quickly is to retain players. Woodward won't entertain requests for a transfer from players until a new coach is hired. In Washington's past, athletic director Todd Turner required incoming freshmen to play at least a year for former coach Tia Jackson before granting transfers.

After Jackson's first season, four of six highly touted recruits had transferred. Jackson was ultimately fired in March 2011 and replaced by McGuff.

The fate of incoming recruits — Kelsey Plum and Brianna Ruiz from California and Chantel Osahor from Arizona — is uncertain. Per NCAA rules, each is required to play for Washington because they signed a letter of intent last fall. Plum, a left-handed point guard, is a McDonald's and Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American.

"I'm in no position to comment on the situation," Plum stated via email in regards to whether she'd request a release from her letter of intent. If granted, she could be subjected to a lost year of eligibility due to NCAA rules.

Washington's women's basketball alumni are playing an active role in the hiring. Former coach June Daugherty was fired in 2007 after leading the Huskies to the NCAA tournament, where they lost in the first round.

Jackson's tenure resulted in four consecutive losing seasons, a first for the program. McGuff's success had most believing the program was making a return to its glory days.

"Our biggest thing is for someone to come in there who's not money-hungry, that doesn't think this is a job to get to another job," former UW guard Sara Mosiman said. She played for Daugherty and Jackson, graduating in 2011.

"We want a culture, again," Mosiman said. "McGuff did get a good momentum going. We want someone to come in there that's going to keep that buzz alive."

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.

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