Photo from Stony Brook Athletics
By Kayla Shults
Just two days after Stony Brook’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament, men’s basketball head coach Steve Pikiell is officially headed to coach the men’s team at Rutgers University.
Pikiell was introduced at a news conference this afternoon at Rutgers, where he will coach a team that finished last in the Big Ten. “Worst to first at every stop,” Pikiell said. “I plan to make Rutgers a terrific basketball program.”
The Associated Press reported that Rutgers’ Board of Governors approved a five-year, $8-million contract for Pikiell on Tuesday. He will earn $1.4 million his first season as head coach and will get a total of $800,000 for his assistant coaches.
Although no formal announcement has been made by the university, Stony Brook Athletics Director Shawn Heilbron released a statement Saturday that said, “For 11 years Steve Pikiell gave his heart and soul to Stony Brook University; his contributions have been immeasurable. His approach to the game is the epitome of winning the ‘right way,’ and I have no doubt that he will bring that same philosophy to Rutgers. Thanks to Steve our men’s basketball program has transformed into one that will attract great candidates, and my expectation is that we will identify a world class coach who shares our vision to positively transform the life of each student-athlete and win at the highest level.”
Pikiell holds the record for most wins as the men’s basketball coach at Stony Brook, where he has coached for 11 seasons. He has led the team to five postseason bids, four America East regular season championships and four America East finals appearances. He was also named the America East Coach of the Year in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2016.
Before taking the coaching job at Stony Brook, Pikiell had served as an assistant coach at his alma matter, the University of Connecticut, as well as at Yale University, Central Connecticut State and George Washington University. He also held the position of head coach at Wesleyan from 1995-1996.
At the team’s homecoming last Friday, Pikiell said he believed the Seawolves appearance in the tournament would benefit the school’s basketball program and the university as a whole. “The more exposure you get the more guys want to play for you,” Pikiell said. “The more people know what a great university this is, the better it is for recruiting. So, I think it’s going to do a lot for every area, I think people are going to realize what a great academic institution this is when they start googling our name now because of athletics so it’s going to do a lot. We’re going to keep recruiting great kids and represent the program the right way and who want to be here and play for a great basketball program.”
Senior Jameel Warney, who led the team with 43 points in their NCAA appearance against Kentucky, quieted any doubts that fans might have had on whether or not Pikiell could handle the job as a head coach at such a large university when he sent out this tweet when rumors of the move began to swirl Saturday.
Recruited a 2 stars prospects out of jersey. We saw how that turned out https://t.co/TwQOuodMMW
— Jameel Warney (@Fullcoursemeelz) March 19, 2016