PROVIDENCE — Ed Cooley has agreed to a multi-year contract extension, one that will keep at the helm of the Providence College men’s basketball program into the foreseeable future.
The city native and the Friars made a formal announcement on Tuesday. Conversations have been ongoing for the better part of six months, and they’ve finally reached a conclusion.
Specifics of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Providence athletic director Steve Napolillo confirmed Cooley would receive additional tenure, a raise in salary and a larger compensation pool for his staff. The Friars will also continue to drive improvements to their own facilities, to their downtown home at the newly christened Amica Insurance Pavilion and to what their program can offer players in terms of NCAA-sanctioned name, image and likeness opportunities.
“Not many coaches are able to live the dream of coaching in their hometown, and I feel blessed every day that I have this opportunity,” Cooley said in a statement. “I have had the good fortune of working for great administrators and coaching some of the best players in the country.”
Coach Ed Cooley’s accomplishments at Providence College
Providence is coming off a banner 2021-22 season. The Friars captured their first regular-season Big East championship in program history and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years. Cooley was named both Big East Coach of the Year and Naismith National Coach of the Year, the first man from Providence to claim either honor.
“It’s a great relationship, and all great relationships have to be reciprocal,” Napolillo said. “We’re really excited that this is where he wants to be, and we want him here.”
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Cooley will enter his 12th season with the Friars in November. His six March Madness appearances are the most in program history, and only a COVID-19 cancelation denied Providence a seventh at the close of the 2019-20 season. Cooley assembled a roster that stormed to a 27-6 mark last year, and its finishing loss came to eventual national champion Kansas.
“We are so very pleased with and grateful for his continued commitment to PC, and this contract extension is, in turn, our commitment to him that we will continue to support him and the men’s basketball program to the highest degree,” Providence president Rev . Kenneth R. Sicard said in a statement.
Cooley’s last extension came in the wake of a May 2019 pursuit from Michigan, which eventually pivoted to alum Juwan Howard. The Friars were able to retain Cooley thanks to the quick work of former athletic director Bob Driscoll and Napolillo, who was elevated to replace the retiring Driscoll in July. It was safe to assume Cooley was signed well into the 2020s — Driscoll described the agreement at the time as a lifetime contract.
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“Ed could go anywhere in the country,” Driscoll said at his retirement press conference in January. “He’s the most high-profile man of color as a coach in the country. He could leave tomorrow. But he stays because he loves Friartown.”
Cooley’s career stats
Cooley has posted a 221-141 overall mark since being hired away from Fairfield, a run that includes his 300th career win and 100th Big East win. His teams are 55-27 in single-digit games over the last five years, including a 16-3 mark in 2021-22. Providence set a new program best with 14 conference victories, and a February home hammering of Creighton clinched the title.
“This commitment is about not being complacent,” Napolillo said. “This is a commitment saying, ‘Listen, you saw what we did last year – let’s get it to the next level now.’”
Jay Wright’s surprising retirement from Villanova in the spring left Cooley as the conference’s longest-tenured coach. Greg McDermott was hired by the Bluejays for the 2010-11 season, but they didn’t join the league until its formal restructuring in 2013-14. Six programs in the conference have changed coaches since the close of the 2020-21 season.
“When you look at Ed Cooley, you look as a coach and as an ambassador on a national scale,” Napolillo said. “He really is the perfect person for Providence College.
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“You take all those factors into consideration – what he means to the Big East, what he means to us, what he means to the city of Providence. I feel very confident with this contract that he’s well-compensated, feels very valued and it’s mutual.”
Cooley was a groundbreaking hire by Driscoll, the first Black men’s basketball head coach with the Friars. He’s been a consistent advocate for men and women of color throughout the college sporting landscape and while serving as a liaison to Providence’s campus department of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Cooley and men’s ice hockey coach Nate Leaman have both signed long-term extensions over the last six months, setting up the immediate future for the Friars in their two headlining sports.
“Your coaches and student-athletes are your two most precious constituent bases – you have to make sure you take care of them,” Napolillo said. “You’re keeping your A players. My whole goal as a leader is to develop, retain and reward our best people.”
On Twitter: @BillKoch25