May 2, 2003
I know what you're thinking - Ground Hog Day, right?
Well, we've sure packed a year's worth of activity into 72 hours, haven't we? First the $4.5 million dollar donation - we'll count Tuesday as a happy day. Then Bruce Weber takes the Illinois job - a not so happy Wednesday. And now we're back today - on what is unquestionably another happy and historic day for Saluki Athletics.
We have a new standard of excellence in Saluki Athletics, due in large part to the success of our men's basketball program. We've worked hard to get to the top, but just like the kids game King of the Hill, it's going to be difficult to maintain that position. So finding the right person to lead the program at this point in time is critical. And we've found him, right here, close to home. Matt Painter has the qualities I was looking for in a head coach:
1) unquestionable integrity and values;
2) outstanding experience;
3) the fact that he cares about our student-athletes'
academic performance as well as their athletic abilities;
4) his work ethic is immeasurable;
5) he knows the Southern Illinois landscape;
6) he's an excellent recruiter;
7) he's a teacher and leader
8) and an individual who will represent this fine institution with dignity and class.
When you look at where our program is and how important continuity is to its success, the choice becomes readily apparent. This is an extremely important decision for this university, a difference maker, really. Matt is a rising star in the coaching profession and has all the characteristics our men's basketball program needs to continue to be successful.
I know I said I the players wouldn't have any input in the process but when I met with the team Tuesday evening, I was looking for an indication as to how they felt about Matt - without asking them directly. They let me know. Brad Korn (I believe) said "the fruit doesn't fall too far from the tree." And when I asked him for some clarification, several of the players responded - we already know who we want for our coach. When I asked who, they unanimously answered, "Coach P."
It was a chorus of support that sealed the deal in my mind. Ladies and gentleman, I'm pleased and proud to introduce our new head men's basketball coach, "Coach P", Matt Painter.