We knew this day would come. And sadly…it did.
Brad Stevens wouldn’t coach the Butler men’s basketball team forever. Eventually, some big school with a big checkbook would lure him away from Indianapolis and his boyhood home.
This spring, UCLA looked to be that school. And yet…Stevens turned it down. Maybe he would stay. Maybe he would be the guy who stays loyal to his school and his city. Maybe he would decide he had everything he wanted and needed right here. Maybe he was excited about taking Butler into the Big East. Maybe it was enough.
Then again…maybe not.
In the end, it wasn’t the big college money that Brad Stevens found too tempting to refuse. Instead, Stevens would become the head coach of the Boston Celtics. A storied NBA franchise with deep pockets and deep roots in basketball history.
So, where does this leave Butler? Its players? Their recruits? As Butler athletic director Barry Collier said, there’s never a good time for a coach to leave a program.
“I approached it that every day and year Brad was our coach, it was a good year for Butler.” -Butler athletic director Barry Collier
And few people would disagree. Brad Stevens was a terrific coach, role model, and teacher of “The Butler Way.” With Stevens, it was always about the kids. His priority…developing great players but more importantly, great men. It made him uniquely suited for the job. And his success spoke for itself.
Brad Stevens is still focused on the kids. But the kids that are a priority now are his own. A six-year, 22 million dollar contract sets the Stevens family up for life. And no matter how much he loves Butler, a guy like Brad Stevens is always going to put his family first. We would expect nothing less from one of the truly good guys in college basketball.
Still, that doesn’t take away the sting.
Even the school’s mascot, Butler Blue III had something to say about Stevens’ departure.
You owe me one, Leprechaun.
— Butler Blue III (@ButlerBlue3) July 3, 2013
It kind of feels like when Tony Dungy left the Colts. He was the perfect guy to represent the team and the city. There would never be another coach who would be more beloved by the players and the fans…
And then came Chuck Pagano.
Butler will find its next Brad Stevens. For all we know…they already have.
He will be embraced by the school, the players, and the fans. And “The Butler Way” will be his way.
And maybe he’ll be the guy who never leaves.
But…don’t get your hopes up.