Utah State Extends Stew Morrill's Contract Through 2008
April 27, 2000
LOGAN, Utah - A nation-lomg 19-game winning streak, a perfect Big West Conference season, a league championship, and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in just his second season was enough to get Utah State head basketball coach Stew Morrill a contract extension it was announced today by Aggie athletics director Rance Pugmire.
Morrill, who has built a 43-19 record in two years as USU's head coach, was named the Big West Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Aggies to a perfect 16-0 regular season mark in league play. USU then won the tournament en route to a nation-long 19-game winning streak. USU's season ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a loss to defending national champion Connecticut.
"Stew has been a very good coach for a very long time and we are fortunate to have him at Utah State University," Pugmire said. "We are even more fortunate to reach an agreement which should keep him here for the extent of his coaching career."
Morrill is in the third year of his original five year contract and the University has added five more years to carry him through the 2007-08 season. Morrill will be paid a base salary of $143,000 starting this season.
"I said when I came to Utah State that this would very possibly be my last coaching stop," Morrill said. "This long term contract certainly shows an effort by the administration to make the possibility a reality. I am very appreciative of the confidence that Utah State is showing in myself and our entire coaching staff. We will do everything possible to make all the Aggies proud of our basketball program."
Morrill led Utah State to a 15-13 record in 1999 and then guided the Aggies, who were picked as low as fifth in the six-team Eastern Division of the Big West Conference, to a 28-6 mark in 2000.
"To put together a season like this one with so many unknowns was remarkable," Pugmire said of Morrill's efforts with a team that returned just three letterwinners. "The exposure his team and staff brought to the University is immeasurable.
"His integrity and professionalism are very refreshing and are welcolmed by our community and fans," Pugmire said. "It is obvious the attitude and enthusiasm he and his staff have carry over to their teams."
The Prove, Utah, native cited remaining close to his family as another reason to remain at Utah State. "Proximity to family was, and is, a motivating factor in being here," Morrill said about his many family members, including his mother, who lives in Utah.
In 14 years of collegiate coaching Morrill owns a 261-157 record. He was 97-52 in five years at Montana (1987-91), 121-86 in seven years at Colorado State (1992-98) and is 43-19 in two years at Utah State (1999-2000).
"I think that it is a very intelligent move on the part of Utah State to extend Stew's contract," said New Mexico State head coach Lou Henson. "I have known him for a long time and he didn't just become a great coach overnight. He has been at places when he didn't always have the greatest talent, but he proved he could win. He is excellent in adjusting to the talent that he has and getting the most out of them. He did a remarkable job with his team, which wasn't picked very high last year, and that is a sign of an excellent coach."