May 1, 2003
It didnít take long for Southern Illinois University athletic director Paul Kowalczyk to make up his mind. One day after Bruce Weber left to become head coach at Illinois, Kowalczyk promoted Matt Painter, 32, who becomes the third-youngest menís basketball head coach in the 90-year history of the program.
Former Saluki coach and NBA Hall-of-Famer Harry Gallatin was 31-years-old when he was named head coach in 1958, and William McAndrew was 26 when he took the reigns of SIU's first officially recognized squad in 1913.
Painter was Weberís top assistant the last five years and helped build SIU into a basketball powerhouse. He helped recruit the entire, current roster of Saluki players, including two of the best players in the programís history, Kent Williams and Jermaine Dearman.
Just the 11th head coach in the 90-year history of the University, Painter comes from the same Purdue bloodlines as his mentor. Painter played for legendary coach Gene Keady and then-assistant coach Weber, from 1989-93. Painter was honorable mention All-Big Ten at the guard position his senior year, and he helped lead the Boilermakers to three NCAA Tournament bids and one NIT during his playing career.
After graduation, Painter made three coaching stops before joing Weberís staff at Southern. He coached one year each at Washington & Jefferson College (1993-94) and Barton College (1994-95), before moving to the Division I ranks, spending three years on the staff at Eastern Illinois (1995-98).
At Washington & Jeff, Painter helped guide the team to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight and an overall record of 22-3. At Eastern Illinois, he was involved in recruiting star players Kyle Hill and Henry Domercant, who later led EIU to the NCAA Tournament in 2001.
When Weber was hired at Southern Illinois in 1998, he quickly added Painter to his staff. The pair reversed the fortunes of a program that had previously suffered three straight losing seasons.
In their first year together at SIU, Weber and Painter took a makeshift roster and produced a winning season at 15-12. That set the stage for a 20-13 team in the 1999-2000 campaign that beat Colorado in the NIT.
After recording a 16-14 record in the 2000-01 season, the Salukis emerged on the national scene the following year, posting a school-record 28 wins en route to the NCAA Sweet 16. The 2001-02 team finished 28-8 and defeated the likes of Indiana, Iowa State, Georgia and Texas Tech. Along the way, SIU garnered unprecedented media coverage, putting the program in the national spotlight.
Last season, the Salukis continued their winning ways, claiming their second straight regular season conference title and making a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. The team was also featured on a national television documentary on MTV.
Painter was signed to a four-year contract worth $720,000. The Muncie, Ind. native holds an undergraduate degree from Purdue and a Masterís from Eastern Illinois. He and his wife, Jerri Uhrig, were married on May 24, 2003.
|1993-94||Washington & Jefferson||Assistant||22-3||10-0||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1999-00||Southern Illinois||Assistant||20-13||12-6||NIT 2nd Round|
|2001-02||Southern Illinois||Assistant||28-8||14-4||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2002-03||Southern Illinois||Assistant||24-7||16-2||NCAA 1st Round|
|†||at Southern Illinois||103-54||62-28|