Coen renews contract

Coen renews contract
Bill Coen, men's basketball head coach

By Patrick McHugh, News Staff

Men’s basketball head coach Bill Coen has found a permanent home in Boston, and it’s on Huntington Avenue.

Athletics Director Peter Roby announced May 3 that Coen signed a six year contract extension which runs through the 2015-16 season. Exact terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“Coach Coen has been a terrific coach and educator to our student-athletes over the last four seasons,” Roby said. “His efforts in guiding our student-athletes to success both on and off the court embody the type of program we want here at Northeastern. We are thrilled to be able to keep him in the Husky family for the long-term future.”

Coen, who led the Huskies to a 66-62 in four seasons since being hired in 2006, was quick to point out others who have contributed to his success.

“I could not be any more excited to continue to serve as the head basketball coach at Northeastern University,” Coen said. “I know my name is on the contract but this is certainly a day I share with my staff and players that helped build this program.”

The news of the contract extension comes weeks after speculation of Coen’s departure for another program. Boston College fired head coach Al Skinner March 30, leaving the door open for Coen, who served as an assistant coach at BC under Skinner, to potentially take over. Though Coen interviewed for the job, it went to former Cornell University head coach Steve Donahue.

Coen’s name also circulated around the head coaching vacancy at Siena College, where head coach Fran McCaffery departed to take the head coaching position at the University of Iowa. Coen met with Siena officials in early April about the opening but was not hired; Siena promoted assistant coach Mitch Buonaguro to the head coaching position.

Roby said contract negotiations were ongoing even as Coen interviewed at other schools. He also acknowledged the interest Coen generated from other schools.

“When you’re coming off the kind of success that Bill and his program have experienced in the last several years, you’re going to be in demand,” Roby said. “I think we all are aware that Bill was a person that several schools were interested in talking to, and rightfully so, about their head coaching positions. We did everything we could to send Bill the right message that we want him to be our head coach for a long time, and I’m just really excited that we were able to make that happen.”

Coen’s teams have improved record-wise in each of the last four seasons. The Huskies are 44-28 in conference play under Coen and have gone to the postseason each of the last two seasons, including the school’s second-ever appearance in the National Invitational Tournament. He was named the 2008-09 New England Basketball Hall of Fame Division I Coach of the Year and the USBWA District I Coach of the Year in 2010.

The squad’s on-court success has also led to an increase in the program’s fan base. Student attendance at Matthews Arena last season increased by 77 percent thanks to the introduction of the “N-Zone”, the student seating area courtside, which Coen helped organize. In addition, nine of Northeastern’s 33 games were nationally televised last season.

“Coach Coen has brought the basketball program to a new level,” Roby said. “Under his leadership, the team galvanized the student body, engaged the alumni base and furthered the national exposure of the university. We are thrilled to be able to keep him in the Husky family and look forward to his on-going success.”

Roby said Coen’s contract was a small part in the redistribution process after the elimination of the football program on Nov. 23, 2009.

“There is a need to allocate resources, whether it came from the discontinuation of football or generally in terms of operating budget,” Roby said. “We made use of all available resources to address the needs of the basketball program, as we are trying to address the needs of a number of other programs in the Athletics Department.”

The 2010-11 schedule will be unveiled in the fall, but Coen did give some clues into the early portion of the schedule. The team’s home opener will be Friday, Nov. 12 against Boston University, and the Homecoming game will be against Siena Nov. 20. NU will also make a trip to play at Providence College sometime in 2010, the final installment in a three-year series with the Friars.

Coen said his new contract will help the Huskies build off previous success and hopefully improve in the future.

“It just means so much to the program, to the level of commitment the University has made across the board, allowing us to try to compete in an extremely competitive league,” Coen said. “President Aoun has given us the resources to do so and we are very happy about that.”

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