Valparaiso University, Bryce Drew agree to 10-year contract extension
Earlier this season, Valparaiso University men’s basketball coach Bryce Drew suggested he would not want to leave the college and city that he’s known most of his life, where he has been considered a basketball hero over the years.
“For me, the last couple years there have been a lot more reasons to stay than to leave. My wife (Tara) and I are very, very happy here,” he said. “We’re happy for lots of reasons. We like the community and love the location being close to Chicago. So for us, when we’re really happy like this, we don’t see a need to change. I’ve heard a lot of coaches say don’t mess with happy, and it’s more than just basketball that we’re very happy here.”
That turned out to be a premonition. On Wednesday the university announced that it has reached an agreement with Drew for a 10-year contract extension.
“Bryce Drew has shown himself to be one of the exceptional young coaches in college basketball,” VU athletic director Mark LaBarbera said in a release. “His outstanding record clearly shows his ability to recruit and lead talented student-athletes. We are grateful for coach Drew’s dedication to Valparaiso University and excited that he will continue in a leadership role here for the foreseeable future.”
Besides being happy at the university where he played, and in the city where he was a star player at Valparaiso High School and was named Indiana Mr. Basketball in 1994, Drew said earlier this season that he had a great relationship with Valparaiso’s administration from the president on down.
The feeling seems to be mutual.
“We are thrilled to have a coach of such high caliber for our men’s basketball team,” Valparaiso president Mark Heckler said in a release. “Bryce demonstrates extraordinary leadership, integrity and character, and I am confident he will continue to develop Valpo student-athletes who exhibit these same characteristics.”
Drew has produced the most successful two-year stretch to start a coaching career of any Crusaders basketball coach. VU has won back-to-back Horizon League regular-season titles, and won the Horizon League Tournament last season to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“My heart’s definitely here at Valparaiso,” Drew said. “I spent so much time here in the gym when no one else was practicing, and I went to school here. Growing up I remember enjoying watching my dad and brother put their passion into building Valpo’s basketball program. So I feel loyalty to this school and the community. I have an excellent relationship with the president and athletic director here and I have complete trust in their leadership. I’m very blessed to be part of this program and university.
“To see the progression of the community and campus — we play in a top-12 league in the country — I’m really excited to keep improving the program and keep Valpo’s name relevant across the country.”
Drew confirmed that talks about the extension have been going on since “late spring, early summer” and it was just a matter of time that something would get done.
This season the Crusaders are off to a 7-5 start through a tough nonconference schedule that has included close losses at Illinois and Ohio, and a heartbreaking loss to NCAA Tournament team St. Louis at home.