MORAGA (CBS / AP) — Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett received a new 10-year contract Friday, keeping him at the successful mid-major school through 2021.
Bennett begins his 11th season guiding the Gaels, who in recent years have established themselves among the top two teams in the West Coast Conference along with Gonzaga. Bennett has gone 208-112 at Saint Mary’s and developed his program into a perennial contender thanks in large part to the recruiting of Australian stars.
In 2010, the Gaels reached the NCAA tournament regional semifinals, losing to Baylor. After that, there was speculation Bennett might bolt for a bigger program—such as a then-Pac-10 school.
Instead, he has been happy to stay put in the close-knit campus community in the East Bay.
“We’ve had great players and assistant coaches who have put a lot of effort into building the program to a level where we can maintain success and continue to build on it,” Bennett said. “We have great student-athletes, a supportive administration and enthusiastic student and community support for our program. My family and I enjoy being at Saint Mary’s and living in such a supportive and positive community.”
Bennett has turned the program around since arriving in 2001 and taking over a team that went 2-27 the previous season.
The Gaels quickly improved with Bennett in charge, going from nine wins to 15 to 19, and then to 25 to reach the 2005 NCAA tournament for the school’s first NCAA berth since 1997.
They are in a current run of four straight 25-win seasons. The Gaels—co-WCC champions last season—missed the NCAA tournament this year, then Saint Mary’s was stunned by Kent State 71-70 in the first round of the NIT.
The Gaels return four starters this season.
“Randy clearly embodies what Saint Mary’s College is all about,” athletic director Mark Orr said. “He is, obviously, an excellent basketball coach with a track record of competitive success and he has led our program to unparalleled achievement. But, he is also a valued and respected leader on campus, an impactful mentor of our student-athletes and a committed member of the community. I’m thrilled that we are able to sign him to this long-term agreement and look forward to him leading Saint Mary’s basketball for the next decade.”
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