LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – One week after Rick Stansbury stepped down, Western Kentucky University has found its new coach.
WKU athletic director Todd Stewart announced on Saturday that the school has signed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Steve Lutz to a 4-year contract. Lutz is fresh off a second straight NCAA Tournament trip, including the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win in a First Four victory over SEMO on March 14.
The former assistant to Matt Painter at Purdue comes to Bowling Green with a 2-year record of record of 47-23 at TAMUCC. He was named the 2023 Southland Conference and NABC District 22 Coach of the Year, and also was named a finalist for the 2023 Skip Prosser Man of the Year award.
A press conference to introduce Lutz is scheduled for Monday at noon, Eastern time.
“We are excited to name Steve Lutz as our next head coach,” Stewart said. “He is a proven winner and a respected coach with a track record of consistent success in recruiting, player development, academics, and community involvement. It is nice to hire someone with head coaching experience, but it is even better if they have winning head coaching experience. After having a major impact at Purdue as an assistant coach, Steve’s impact at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi over the last two seasons as a head coach is remarkable. He inherited a program with four consecutive losing seasons and led an immediate turn around culminating in conference championships and an NCAA Tournament appearance each season. And, over his last seven seasons, his teams have reached the NCAA Tournament each year. He is the right person at the right time to lead our program.”
TAMUCC finished 24-11 this past season, which ended with a loss to top-seeded Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament. The Islanders went 14-4 in league play. They led the Southland Conference
in scoring (80.4 ppg), free throw percentage (79%), 3-point field goal defense (33.1%), rebounding (36.9 rpg), rebounding margin (+3.6), assists (15.7 apg) and assist/turnover ratio (1.2).
The program had four straight losing seasons before Lutz’s arrival, including a 5-19 record the year prior. He engineered the largest turnaround in program history, leading the team to a 23-12 record in 2021-22. He did it with the transfer portal, bringing in a Division 1-leading 10 transfers in.
“I am very excited and appreciative of the opportunity to be the next head coach at Western Kentucky,” Lutz said. “This is a storied program with a rich history of success. Our teams will wear the WKU uniform with pride and represent the Hilltopper Nation in everything we do. I look forward to meeting our players, and our family is looking forward to joining the Bowling Green community. Go Tops!”
Among those who spoke highly of Lutz was Louisville football coach Jeff Brohm, who got to know the coach when both were at Purdue.
“I am thrilled for Steve that he has the opportunity to be Western Kentucky’s head basketball coach,” Brohm said. “We got to know each other during my time at Purdue and the Brohm’s have become good friends with the Lutz family. Steve is a great person, an outstanding leader, and a man of high character and integrity. He is an extremely hard worker and tireless recruiter who will build special bonds and relationships with all his players. I know he was highly respected throughout the Purdue athletics department, and I’m confident everyone at Western Kentucky will really enjoy working with him and getting to know his wonderful family. I wish he and WKU basketball all the best!”
Painter also spoke highly of his former assistant.
“This is a home run hire for Western Kentucky, a great fit for both sides, and I am thrilled for Steve that he has the opportunity to lead such a historic program,” Painter said. “We would not be the Big Ten Champions and a number one seed this year without the impact Steve Lutz had on Purdue basketball. I hired Steve in 2017 to recruit and evaluate and he was outstanding. He works as hard at recruiting as anyone I have seen, and anytime I had a personnel question he always had an answer. He is great at building relationships and having a rapport with people. He can relate to anyone. He was the person most responsible for us signing Zach Edey. He led the recruitment of Zach and also got it over the finish line. But Steve is an all around excellent coach, and it would be a mistake to label him as only a recruiter. He was our defensive coordinator during his time here, and went against the Big Ten's most efficient offense each day in practice. He has taken some of our offensive principles along with what he did at Creighton to formulate his current offensive approach. Steve is a great family man and a dedicated, disciplined all around coach with a tremendous work ethic. He can teach every aspect of the game. He was a valuable member of our staff and I am not surprised to see him have the success he has had that led to this opportunity. He has earned it, and I have great confidence his successful journey will continue at Western Kentucky."
Copyright 2023 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.