Drake University moved quickly to hire a new basketball coach and the announcement became official earlier today. Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield-Clubb introduced Mark Phelps as the school’s 25th men’s basketball coach. Phelps spent ten years on Herb Sendek’s staff at North Carolina State and the last two at Arizona State.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 28-5 season in which they won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament championship. Hatfield-Clubb says that success helped make it an attractive job. She says in 20 years in athletics she’s never had a group of candidates have as much interest in the job as the school had in them.
Hatfield-Clubb says they were searching for a proven winner that was the right fit. "We wanted to find somebody who had the values of Drake University," Hatfield-Club says. She says they also wanted a teacher, and Phelps is one of the top teaching coaches in the country.
The hirings ends a process that began last Tuesday when former coach Keno Davis was introduced at Providence. Drake University president David Maxwell says he told the players that the media attention the program had received would make dozens if not hundreds of coaches want to come to Drake. Maxwell says he and Hatfield-Club made a promise to players that they would find a coach worthy of taking over the program.
Phelps says he is happy to get the chance to lead the program. "it’s not lost on me, how precious an opportunity this is," Phelps says, "Drake basketball this past year demonstrated to the country what many in the community already knew was happening."
Phelps says he was impressed with the "family atmosphere" of the program. He thanked the fans and alumni for having a part in what is happening at Drake. Phelps says he feels like Drake is the right fit for him. Pehlps says men’s basketball is "extremely important", but is also only one part of the total education process in college. Phelps says he’s pleased to be a part of the Drake culture and wants to do things the right way.
Several returning Drake players were involved in the selection of a new coach and sophomore guard Josh Young is happy with the way it turned out. Young says he’s excited for Phelps to be here as he seems to be a man of great character, and Young say Phelps was his first choice.
Young says it was a difficult week for the players, and he says he’s glad it is over and they are all ready to move forward now. Young was impressed with how soon a new coach was in place. He says that shows how dedicated the athletic director and school president were to getting the job done.