Butler coach Stevens not leaving for UCLA, sources say

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Butler University men’s basketball coach Brad Stevens visited with UCLA officials this week, sources said early Friday, and considered the school’s head coaching job. But several sources, including ESPN and CBS Sports, reported Friday afternoon that Stevens was staying at Butler, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Earlier this month, UCLA fired Ben Howland after 10 seasons as head coach.

KTLA-TV and KCLA-TV in Los Angeles reported that Stevens was on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles on Thursday for an interview and tour of the basketball facilities and campus.

UCLA posted information on its website early Friday morning saying Stevens and school officials were in contract discussions. That information has since been taken down.

Butler officials Friday morning declined to comment.

“We don’t comment on job speculation,” said Jim McGrath, spokesman for Butler’s athletic department.

Stevens, too, declined to comment.

Stevens did tweet Friday morning: “Love walking thru Hinkle [Fieldhouse] in the morning... Anxious to get started on our spring workouts next week.”

Whether those spring workouts will be in Hinkle on the Butler campus or at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion is anyone’s guess.

The sources told IBJ Friday that Stevens had received an offer from UCLA and that Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier was huddling with President James Danko and trustees to consider a counter-offer to retain their star coach. The sources wished to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the topic.

Butler has made a major commitment to basketball since 1989, when then-university president Geoffrey Bannister decided to use the men’s basketball team as a primary marketing tool for the larger school and its academic causes.

Though Butler, a private university, doesn’t release details of its coaches’ contracts, information from the school’s not-for-profit filing, plus information from sources, indicated that the men’s basketball coaches salary has increased more than five-fold in the last decade and has tripled in the last three years to nearly $1 million annually.

Stevens’ salary is a significant commitment for a school with 4,200 students and a small alumni base from which to draw. Sources said UCLA is offering Stevens between $2.7 million and $3.2 million annually. That would put him near the salaries of the top-paid NCAA Div. I coaches. IU’s Tom Crean makes $3.16 million per year. Purdue pays Matt Painter makes close to $2.5 million annually.

Stevens, 36, is one of the top young college basketball coaches in the nation. In six seasons as Butler’s head coach, he’s 166-49 and has taken the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament championship game twice.

Two factors may keep Stevens at Butler. First, he’s a native Hoosier who played high school ball locally and played collegiately at DePauw University. Second, he has more job security at Butler than he’ll ever have at UCLA—or likely anywhere else.

One Butler official told IBJ recently “Stevens basically has tenure here.”

Officials for UCLA will be far less patient and likely far more demanding. Howland got fired despite compiling a 233-107 record and taking three teams to the Final Four during his decade at the school.

Whether Butler keeps Stevens or not, school officials will likely have to consider increasing their men’s basketball coach’s salary if they want to stay competitive and maximize marketing opportunities through the team.

After last season, Butler jumped from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10, and next year the Bulldogs will jump to the new Big East, which features schools such as Georgetown University and Marquette University.

Stevens has gone from the highest paid coach in the conference—the Horizon League—to close to the lowest paid coach in his new conference—the Big East—in two years.

Butler’s slice of the conference revenue-sharing pie will grow significantly with its jump from the A10 to the Big East, but the school likely will have to pour that right back into the program to cover increased travel expenses and pay hikes for all coaches.

“They’re swimming in a much bigger pond now,” said Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan professor and sports business author and expert. “And it will be more costly to compete.”

In the end, sports business experts said, the jump to a bigger conference could be a money loser. Butler officials have said the greater marketing opportunities—particularly on the East Coast—were simply too great to pass up.



  • See, I Told You.
    Brad Stevens is staying and doing more to cement his legacy as a coach and leader than he ever could at UCLA. Steve Alford signs a 10 year extension with New Mexico last week - a Lobos team he's had at a 3 seed, what, two or three times in the tourney - and he bails on his new commitment at the first sniff from UCLA. That's all you need to say about a coach's character (or lack thereof) and the stink that's coming out of schools like UCLA - lots of money a dearth of class. Bravo, coach Stevens. Bravo, Butler.
  • Cost of living
    Anybody looking for greener pastures should first make sure they are indeed greener. Comparing costs of living, and taxes between California and Indiana is a good place to start. I would be doubtful if even tripling your salary from $1 million to $3 million would shake out as a pay increase when factoring the insanely high costs of living in California. With California's ongoing financial crisis it will only get worse. I personally wouldn't trade $1 mil annual here in Indiiana for even $5 mil there. You can live on Geist for what a crappy 2 bedroom ranch costs out there. there.
  • good comments
    good comments both ways. UCLA is a prime job, but like any job it has it's good and bad points. Coach pretty much has laid it out that he's staying, so I don't understand this article. We would've love to have him coach in Los Angeles though. Good luck to him.
  • Pot Felons
    I'm glad these guys didn't catch me in college 45 years ago,as I never could have become a teacher and good citizen. I'd have had a felony on my record, which would have altered the course of my entire life. WHEW!
  • Non-story
    Anthony, like many of your "speculative" stories this is a non-story. Brad's going to continue to build Butler into the a national program that already is and will continue to be more successful than UCLA.
  • UCLA is mediocre
    Sorry, but UCLA is not a premiere job. It may pay premiere money, but too much garbage to deal with out there. Slimey AAU coaches, sports agents, bush league fan base, and pressure to be something UCLA is no longer....which is an elite program. Stevens is smart, he just used the leverage he had to get a pay raise.
  • Hilarious.
    Want proof that journalism is a dying profession? This article. The "facts" all amassed from various college message board "sources".
  • price of college
    ....And this is why the cost of an education is so high.
  • You Have to Take It
    John Wooden? UCLA? UCLA is college basketball. You cant turn that down.
  • Go for it, Brad!
    How many of us, if given the oppty to get a huge job promotion with a organization of incredible reputation,would even think twice. Such opportunities don't come along every day...cherish the moment - go for it!
    • A top school
      I know that it hurts to lose a good coach but UCLA is not just a "big school." Brad will be associated with legends like John Wooden and the school with the most National Championships ever. --- Go for it Brad, some of us believe in you and that you can make it anywhere!
      • As Brad considers his options
        I hope he remembers two words: Todd. Licklider. He was doing so well at Butler, but he left to chase money. A few failed seasons later, he found himself out of a job, and is now back here coaching at an NAIA school. While he might be a good candidate to replace Stevens should he leave, I hope Brad realizes the grass might not be as green as all the money they're waving in front of him.
      • More To An Opportunity Than Money.
        If it was purely a money decision, it would be a no-brainer. But in UCLA, Brad Stevens would be facing a program that represents everything about the sport that he - and Butler - have flatly rejected in building a program of character and national repute. At Butler, he deals with basketball players, young men of character, not McDonald's All American divas who will up and leave a program (in the words of Pitt's Khem Birch) "because I ain't gettin' mines." Different caliber of player. Different type of market. In LA, Stevens would have to compete with USC, Cal, the Lakers, the Clippers, the Dodgers, the Angels, the Kings and potentially a new NFL franchise for share of mind. Here, he's only got a handful of other fan distractions. Butler has made as strong a commitment to BradBall as any school will and while the bottom line dollars may not total UCLA's, you bet that the strength of the commitment does. That has to mean a lot to a coach like Brad Stevens. Here, he controls his only destiny. In UCLA, he'll be getting poked and prodded from everyone from the school administration to high ticket donors to do things this way or that way. No, I think Brad Stevens best move is to continue to win here and grow Butler's program until the "other" Butler over there in Durham, NC is looking to replace its own accomplished coach. That's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
      • Way to Go!
        Brad needs to get PAID!!!!! Best of Luck to him he did wounder for Butler and I am sure he will do great no matter where he is.

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