Men's basketball

Drew stays at Valparaiso, gets contract extension

2012-03-28T22:30:00Z 2012-10-01T19:16:54Z Drew stays at Valparaiso, gets contract extensionBy Paul Oren Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 28, 2012 10:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Valparaiso fans can get used to watching Bryce Drew pace up and down the sidelines at the Athletics-Recreation Center for a little bit longer.

After having conversations with Mississippi State earlier this week, Drew has decided to remain the head coach of the Valparaiso men's basketball team.

"I have pulled my name from consideration for Mississippi State," Drew said Wednesday evening.

The first-year coach declined to go into specifics of the process and preferred to give a short statement that will seemingly keep Drew at Valparaiso for at least the 2012-13 season.

Late Wednesday, Valparaiso University Director of Athletics Mark LaBarbera announced in a statement Drew agreed to a contract extension.

"Valparaiso University is committed to building a high-quality, competitive basketball program," VU President Mark Heckler said in the statement. "Bryce Drew has proven himself to be a leader of character and integrity, dedicated to upholding the university's values while striving for success, both on and off the basketball court."

Drew was also quoted in the late-night statement that called the extension "multiyear."

"I am very appreciative and thankful for the opportunity to continue coaching at Valparaiso University," Drew said. "We are blessed at Valpo to have outstanding vision and leadership from President Heckler and Mark LaBarbera. I am very excited to get back on the court with our team and starting to prepare for next season."

ESPN's Jason King reported Wednesday that Drew had met with Mississippi State officials in Atlanta on Monday and had backed out of an interview with Tulsa on Tuesday.

Blue Ribbon Illustrated editor Chris Dortch tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that Drew going to Mississippi State was a "done deal," but Drew remained quiet throughout the day until issuing a statement just after 7:30 p.m.

Drew will be traveling with the rest of his Valparaiso coaching staff to New Orleans today for the Final Four and the staff will continue recruiting to fill a final roster spot for next season.

Earlier speculation had Drew's first year as Valparaiso men's basketball coach gaining more similarities to Scott Drew's one season in charge of the Crusaders.

Both coaches won 20 or more games while leading the Crusaders to regular-season championships before bowing out in their respective conference title games. Scott Drew took Valparaiso to the NIT in 2002-03, losing to Iowa in the first round; while Bryce Drew led the Crusaders back to the NIT this season and a first-round loss to Miami.

Scott Drew left the Crusaders after one season, taking over Baylor in August 2003.

"People from Indiana and Mississippi State have been calling me and texting me all day wanting to know more," former Mississippi State star Shane Power said. "I've been lightly involved in the search, and I've helped (Mississippi State Athletic Director) Scott (Stricklin) with some names, and Bryce is one that I've mentioned."

Power, who graduated from Andrean in 2000, spent two years at Iowa State before transferring to Mississippi State, where he averaged 11.1 points as a senior. Power played in Italy for two years after college and currently works as a college basketball announcer in the Phoenix area. Power still is very involved with Mississippi State basketball and would welcome Drew as the replacement for recently retired Rick Stansbury.

"I think Bryce would be a great fit at Mississippi State as well as a lot of schools," Power said. "I think he's a great fit at Valparaiso. He had an absolute dream season in his first year, and the university should be proud of that."

Power talked at length about Drew's reputation in Mississippi, which changes based on which part of the state the conversation is being held in. Drew knocked out Ole Miss with his famous buzzer-beater in the 1998 NCAA tournament and that fact isn't lost on Power.

Drew's wife, Tara, also has connections to Mississippi, as her parents run a ballet studio in Jackson.

"Bryce is more well-known in Mississippi than many people probably think. His family and Tara's family are extremely well-respected," Power said.

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