By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
In almost 30 years of coaching, Jack Easley has been a lot of places and seen a lot of basketball. But there’s only one place Easley truly considers home — Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Easley spent 19 years as an assistant for the Cowgirls from before leaving for Providence in 2002. Now, 10 years later Easley is back as the Cowgirls’ director of player development.
“We’re really happy to be back,” Easley said. “We’ve always kind of called (Stillwater) our home. I was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., but we spent 19 years here and raised our boys here so we always felt like this was home for us.”
It wasn’t an easy decision for Easley to make. The former Cowgirl assistant was an associate head coach at Iowa State — a program that had made the NCAA tournament the last nine seasons, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2009.
But when the call came, Easley already had his mind made up.
“The only position (Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell) had was director of player development,” Easley said. “He preceded our conversation by saying that he didn’t want to insult me by offering me that job. It certainly wasn’t an insult for me. I have a lot of respect and confidence in Jim. I knew he was a great coach when he was at Seward (Community College). I watched how he guided the Cowgirls through the toughest of times last year. He stood tall when a lot of coaches would have just let the team fold their tent. ... He didn’t allow the team to do that, and I really admired that. So when he called and asked if I would be interested, my ears kind of pointed upward and I paid attention to that and it worked out.”
Having Easley on staff may benefit the Cowgirls with experience on the bench, but it’s the things you see off the court that make him such a valuable commodity for Littell.
“Jack Easley makes it exciting in the office every day,” Littell said. “His personality and mine are very similar and I don’t know if the world needs two of those but we have it here at Oklahoma State. He’s a lot of fun to be with and I made a comment at our athletic banquet the other day that when I hired Jack Easley, all I heard was ‘We’re glad you brought Marla, his wife, back to town.’
“He’s a great guy that brings a vast wealth of experience to our program. He has 28 years of experience in the Big 12 and Big Eight conferences, so he’s been around the block a few times.”
A lot has changed since the last time Easley was in town — so much so that Easley had to take several tours to familiarize himself with Stillwater again.
“Things have changed a lot,” Easley said. “... It took me a while to kind of take a look around both the athletic department and the city of Stillwater. I had to make some trips around and I had to take some personal trips of my own just to get acquainted with everything.”
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the friendships he formed during his first stop in Stillwater.
“We made a lot of friends when we were here and most of those people are still here,” Easley said. “The news spread pretty rapidly when we were given the opportunity to come back. We had a lot of friends that texted us and got on the phone and called us. We were happy and it’s just been great to be back.”