'Uncommon success' on the court

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The phrase "Uncommon Success" often gets jokingly thrown around campus. But demonstrated by a uniquely successful DePauw alum this past month, especially last night, it actually has a greater meaning.

Sheet signs hanging from greek houses, Facebook statuses and the talk around campus has been about Brad Stevens '99 and the Butler Bulldogs. We already know his story from last year. Stevens was hired out of school by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly but had second thoughts in 2000 when he was offered a volunteer job with the Butler Basketball program.

After talking things over with his wife, Tracy '99, and DePauw head basketball coach Bill Fenlon, Stevens decided that if he was going to try something new, doing it at a young age was the time to do it. He took an unpaid position and was hired full-time the following year. After previous Butler head coaches Thad Motta and Todd Lickliter took jobs at other Div. I programs, Stevens was finally given the head job in 2007.

Since then, he has never looked back. In his first season as head coach, Butler posted a 30-4 record. Only the three Div. 1 coaches posted more wins in their first season and after just one season Stevens moved into No. 7 all-time for wins at Butler. Seventh all-time after just one year.

After his second season, Stevens' record was 56-10. Only Bill Guthridge of the University of North Carolina was able to post more in his first two-years with a record of 58-14. Stevens reached another coaching milestone on January 7th of this year when he picked up his 100th win out of 120 games. That's an 83.3 winning percentage. There are only five coaches in history to reach that mark faster than he has.

This year, Stevens has done something no other coach has been able to do. Before last night's game he had 117 wins, ten more than the previous four-year coaching record.

Even with all the history — Indiana Basketball, the Hoosiers, Larry Bird, Bobby Knight, etc. — Butler is the only team in Indiana to make the Final Four two years in a row.

On that note, the Bulldogs are the 16th team to make consecutive championship games and only the seventh to do so after losing it the year before.

One thing is for sure: Stevens loves Butler, and Butler loves Stevens. What's special about Stevens is that he is a head coach looking to stay at his current school. After last years success, he was signed to a 10-year extension, and it is rumored to be near a seven-figure salary a year.

As aforementioned, Stevens gives meaning to the motto "Uncommon Success." Just think about it — who would quit a job at Eli Lilly to go to an unpaid volunteer coaching position? Stevens gives DePauw students hope that one day after graduation we will be able to make a name for ourselves that people will know across the nation.

Even with all of his success, Stevens is known for his humility. He doesn't flaunt his money around, you rarely see him angry on the court.

One of the best things about his success is that he has not forgotten where he has come from. After his success last year, Stevens came to campus and gave a lecture to the Management Fellows Program, and he is still in contact with his collegiate coach.

The NCAA tournament has become more than just an event to wager money on at DePauw. It is a time for students to realize that our motto has some meaning and that the future is bright.

— Brown is a junior from Poway, Calif., majoring in communication.

sports@thedepauw.com