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Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski leaves Washington for Texas

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Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski leaves Washington for Texas

Washington defense at the game against Stanford on December 5, 2020. It would end up being the last game of defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski's tenure at Washington after he accepted the same job at Texas in January 2021.

After seven years with the Washington football program, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski is leaving Washington to pursue the same role at Texas.

Earlier this month, it was announced that former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian was hired as the next head coach at Texas after spending two seasons as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.

Kwiatkowski joins Sarkisian’s staff at Texas, and makes the jump to the south after spending nearly his entire coaching career in the northwest between Washington, Boise State, Montana State, and Eastern Washington.

Reports began trickling in late Monday evening that a coaching change was imminent, with The Football Brainiacs Texas initially breaking the news. Wednesday afternoon, Kwiatkowski posted to Twitter to reflect the move.

While neither university has confirmed the hire, the change comes as a shock, as Kwiatkowski has demonstrated his loyalty to Washington head coach Jimmy Lake on multiple occurrences during the past seven years.

Kwiatkowski, who had been in the Chris Petersen coaching tree since 2006, took numerous pay cuts throughout his tenure at Washington so the school could keep Lake around at a higher salary. After the 2017 season, Kwiatkowski handed over the play calling duties, following speculation that Lake might leave Montlake to pursue a head coaching job elsewhere.

Back in October, Lake acknowledged the gesture by Kwiatkowski, and displayed his emotions when speaking about his dear friend.

“Coach [Kwiatkowski] and I go back to when I was at Eastern Washington,” Lake said. “He was one of the coaches that talked me into not going into the business world and being a football coach. So, Coach K is a close friend of mine, a dear friend of mine. I can’t say enough about him.”

While the glue holding Lake and Kwiatkowski held them together for decades, it wasn’t enough to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Kwiatkowski’s move could certainly have other personal motives, the pandemic’s financial impacts seem the most logical. Within the past year, the UW Athletic Department has announced numerous cost-saving measures, including the reduction of coaches salaries. The department’s budget was reduced by $8.5 million between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

As Washington’s highest-paid assistant coach in 2020, Kwiatkowski made $1 million, while Texas’ highest-paid assistant coach was Mike Yurcich, at $1.7 million, according to USA Today.

The departure of Kwiatkowski leaves Washington searching for a new defensive coordinator. While Lake may resume defensive play calling duties, a logical replacement for Kwiatkowski lies in defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe, whose 2020 salary was $525,000.

Another familiar name is Gerald Alexander, who served as a graduate assistant at Washington in 2014 while Lake was the defensive backs coach. Alexander is currently the defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins.

Reach reporter Anthony Edwards at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @edwardsanthonyb

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