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Report: Western Illinois, Southeast Missouri State searching for new head coaches

Per Jeff Goodman, Billy Wright and Rick Ray are out at their respective schools.

NCAA Basketball: Western Illinois at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Two Midwestern programs will be searching for new head coaches this offseason, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.

Western Illinois has reportedly parted ways with Billy Wright and Southeast Missouri State has reportedly done the same with Rick Ray. These mark the first two coaching changes following the close of the 2019-20 regular season.

Wright went 53-115 (20-74, Summit) over six season in Macomb, which saw a league record high water mark of 5-11 in 2016-17. Notably, the Leathernecks knocked off top-seeded South Dakota State in last year’s Summit League Tournament, sending home Mike Daum and registering one of the biggest upsets of the conference tournament season. They were unable to build on that momentum, and finished this season 2-14 while not qualifying for a trip to Sioux Falls.

An India prep legend, Wright spent five years as an assistant at Western Illinois before being named head coach in 2014 following one season on staff at Ball State. Notable players he recruited and developed include Garret Covington and Kobe Webster.

Further south, SEMO parted ways with Ray after a 51-104 (3-15, OVC) record over five seasons in charge. His high water mark was a 15-18 (9-7) campaign in 2016-17 that saw the Redhawks finish second in the then-West division, before bowing out to Jacksonville State in the quarterfinals of the league tournament. The team saw diminishing league returns the three season that followed, culminating in a 3-15 season this year.

Notably, Ray lost a pair of ascending players last offseason, as freshman Gabe McGlothan (Grand Canyon) and Ledarrius Brewer (ETSU) both transferred out of the program. Prior to coaching in Cape Girardeu, Ray spent three seasons in charge at Mississippi State.

It’s anyone’s guess as to where both schools look for their new head coaches. Regionally, Saint Louis may be a successful mid-major to poach an assistant from, while assistants in the Missouri Valley and MAC may similarly interest the two administrations.