Cal State Fullerton named Jeff Harada its head women’s basketball coach, Athletics Director Jim Donovan announced on Monday during a press conference at Titan Gym.
Harada becomes the Titans’ 11th head coach in the program’s 48-year history, after spending the last three seasons as head coach at Division II Central Washington University in Ellensburg.
“Jeff stood out among all the other candidates,” Donovan said. “He has a decade of experience in women’s basketball. He has turned two different programs completely around from not winning to winning. He has made postseason appearances numerous times at all the different places that he has coached women’s basketball, and he has an overall winning record everywhere he has coached in women’s basketball. He has a great personality and he has effectively communicated his experience, his philosophy and the culture on his teams.”
Harada’s accomplishments include a total of seven postseason appearances in 18 years of coaching including three trips to the NCAA Division I and II Women’s Basketball Tournaments (2013, 2012, 2010) one trip to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (2014), two appearances in the Men’s National Invitation Tournament (1999, 2000) and one trip to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament (1997).
“We will put a team on the floor that night in and night out will compete and give their best with great passion, great energy and great effort,” Harada said. “We’ll also put a team out there that University and community can be very proud of.”
Harada has won five regular season or conference tournament championships and was named the 2010 Women’s Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year.
“About 20 years ago I started this journey and this career,” Harada said. “I knew coaching is what I wanted to do. To me it’s the best job in the world…the thrill of competition, brainstorming, late nights, coming up with a game plan and strategies to outmatch and outwit opponents and creating a blueprint for a successful program and enjoying that process along the way that leads to the end result. But most important for me, it’s the opportunity to impact the lives of young adults, guide them on the path to be good people and lead a successful life. To me that’s what it’s all about.”
In the last three seasons at Central Washington, Harada compiled a 44-42 record, making three consecutive trips to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Postseason Tournament.
In his first year at Central, Harada nearly doubled the Wildcats’ overall win total and nearly tripled their conference win total from the previous season. In his second year, the Wildcats saw the highest overall win total since 2006 (17) and highest conference win total since 2004 (10). Harada coached two GNAC Freshmen of the Year (2015, 2016) and five all-GNAC selections in his three years at CWU.
“It’s changing the culture, establishing a winning environment and letting the players know this is what it takes to be successful,” Harada said in response to changing the culture of his programs. “Every player will tell you ‘we want to win, we want to work hard’ and I think setting the groundwork of ‘this is what takes’ if you want to achieve those goals is a process. It’s step by step. It’s not going to happen in one day, one night, one week or one month. You learn to appreciate the small victories along the way to ultimately reach your final destination.”
Prior to making the move to Central Washington, Harada served as an assistant coach at Navy for three seasons (2012-14). Navy went to the postseason during each of Harada’s seasons serving on the bench. The team went 24-8 in 2014, and earned a bid into the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. That followed back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Navy won back-to-back regular season Patriot League championships in 2013 and 2014, and won back-to-back Patriot League Tournament titles in 2012 and 2013.
“One of my favorite quotes that really has stuck with me throughout the years is ‘don’t let life change your goals, because achieving your goals can change your life’,” Harada said. “Being named the head women’s basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton will truly change my life, in a good way. I am very excited to take on this challenge.”
Previously, Harada was the head women’s coach at Hawai’i Pacific University, where he took over a team that had won only two games during the season before his arrival. During his tenure at HPU (2008-11), Harada coached one all-region and eight all-conference (Pacific West) players in four years, including two freshman of the year and one newcomer of the year.
Under Harada’s leadership, the Sea Warriors won 58 games, including taking 36 of the 50 games played over his final two seasons there. In 2010, Harada’s team won its first Pacific West Conference title, advancing to its first NCAA Division II Tournament. Harada was tabbed as the conference coach of the year that season.
Harada began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of Colorado (1997-01), as a volunteer assistant. He later became the team’s director of operations. In addition, he was an assistant coach for the HPU men’s program (2004-07) before taking over the women’s team for the 2007-08 season.
He replaces former head coach Daron Park, who in four years totaled a record of 32-89.