Even at its most prosperous junctures, USF’s athletic department hardly resembles a program wading in money, much less swimming in it.
Bereft of lavish booster support or Power Five media-rights money, the Bulls must exercise discretion in some areas, and outright thrift in others. Furthering this frugality is the lingering coronavirus crisis, prompting the department to seek booster support to help see it through this unprecedented stretch.
Yet presumably at some point, economic normalcy will return. When it does, one of athletic director Michael Kelly’s first orders of business will be a new deal for men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory.
“Those discussions have been ongoing,” Kelly said Friday, “and that’s certainly a priority.”
Gregory has compiled a 48-53 in three seasons, but that .475 win percentage takes on far greater context when considering the mess he inherited from predecessor Orlando Antigua.
He had to essentially rebuild the roster after three scholarship players from the 2016-17 club (which went 7-23) stuck around, then had to deal with self-imposed sanctions following an 18-month NCAA probe into Antigua’s program.
Still, his second Bulls team (24-14) set a program-record for victories in a season and won the College Basketball Invitational postseason tournament. This past season’s club went 14-17 despite losing reigning American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Alexis Yetna to a preseason knee injury.
Additionally, the 2018-19 team posted a perfect Academic Progress Rate score, the school recently announced. Gregory also announced Friday that his 2019-20 club’s cumulative spring-semester grade-point average (3.45) was the program’s highest on record.
And one of his incoming freshmen, two-guard Caleb Murphy, is USF’s highest-rated recruit of the Rivals era.
“His program’s great,” Kelly said.
Gregory is halfway through a six-year, $6.58 million deal he signed upon his hiring. He needs only 12 more victories to become the fifth-winningest coach in USF’s 50-year history.