It hasn't quite been a year since Greg Paulus took over as head coach of Niagara University men's basketball following the surprising resignation of Patrick Beilein.
NU appears sold.
Director of Athletics Simon Gray announced a contract extension for Paulus on Tuesday, rewarding the first-time head coach for steadying the program during what could have been tumultuous 2019-20 season. The new deal runs through 2024-25.
Beilein stepped down on Oct. 24, 2019, citing "personal reasons" after spending just 210 days on the job. Paulus, who Beilein hired as an assistant on April 30, was immediately announced as interim head coach, then got the permanent job on Nov. 6, two days before the start of the regular season. Paulus was awarded a multi-year contract at the time.
Paulus' first season started slow. The Purple Eagles went dropped their first five games and went 2-9 in non-conference play. But they recovered in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, going 9-11 and finishing sixth after being voted 10th in the preseason poll.
The Purple Eagles ranked in the top-25 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (10.6), fewest total turnovers (338), turnover margin (3.3), and 3-point percentage (.372), leading the MAAC in all four categories. Niagara had the best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.13) in the MAAC as well. Under Paulus’ tutelage, sophomore Marcus Hammond had a career-season en route to being named to the first team All-MAAC.
Paulus was recognized with the Joe B. Hall National Coach of the Year award, presented annually to the top first-year coach in all NCAA Division I.
"Greg's passion for Niagara Basketball can be felt daily,” Gray said in a statement. “He has made an immediate impact on our student-athletes, around our campus, and in the greater community. There is a lot of momentum in our basketball program and we are excited about the future."
“It is a privilege to be the head men’s basketball coach at Niagara University,” Paulus added in a statement of his own. “I am grateful for the continued commitment and support from Father Maher and Simon Gray. We will continue working to enrich the lives of our student-athletes on and off the court to make Niagara University, the community, and alumni proud.”