Source: CVDaily Feed
LOGAN – When Stew Morrill arrived in Logan in 1999 to become the head coach of Utah State’s basketball team he didn’t envision everything that was going to happen.
“I thought it was the best job in the Big West Conference,” Morrill said. “I thought that we could win. It was coming home for me.”
Seventeen years and 393 wins later, Morrill is retiring. The announcement was officially made at a press conference on USU’s campus Friday afternoon. Morrill will finish his coaching career when the basketball season ends. His last game in the Spectrum, where he achieved has a .893 winning record, will come March 7 against Colorado State, the same school he left when he became the head coach for the Aggies.
“We’re still running a basketball program the right way in my mind,” Morrill said. “I’ve got peace with that. We graduated our players at a high level. We didn’t cheat.
“I’m proud of that. I feel good about that.”
The press conference was crowded for the announcement. Both media and fans filled the seats and lined the walls around the room.
“I know for many of us in Cache Valley the winters were made much more bearable because of Stew’s basketball program,” USU President Stan Albrecht said. “It didn’t matter how cold and foggy it was outside. We’d go to a game in the Spectrum and experience the Spectrum magic.”
Albrecht said there aren’t many who understand the behind-the-scenes impact Morrill and his wife Vicki have had on the community, the university and lives of many individuals.
“Stew taught a whole lot of young men how to play basketball but he also taught a whole lot of young men how to live life,” he said. “I think over the years that will end up being perhaps the greatest of his legacies.”
USU Athletic Director Scott Barnes said Morrill will finish as one of the finest college basketball coaches and go down in USU history as “the greatest coach to ever walk the sidelines of the Smith Spectrum.”
“He’s won big on the court,” he said. “We know the success he’s had. He’s won big in graduating his student athletes. He’s won big because over a period of 17 years he has operated this program with impeccable integrity.”
During his time at USU, Morrill led the Aggies to 14-straight seasons with at least 21 wins, seven conference championships and has been named conference coach of the year five times.
Morrill said he had a few years left on his contract, but said he approached Barnes about a month ago about retiring. He said Barnes offered to let him coach one more year, but Morrill decided the timing was right.
“It’s just time. It’s the right time,” he said. “Who gets to stay 17 years anymore in one place? I mean, what a wonderful thing for me and for my family. We get to stay at Utah State for 17 years.”
During the press conference Morrill thanked his family, the fans and the players. Even though he has set records, obtained a high winning percentage and won multiple championships, Morrill said he is most proud of the kids he coached.
“You get some wins and it keeps you working and you’re always proud that you’re able to win some games,” he said. “I’ve had so many high-character kids and I think that’s what Utah State can be proud of. The kids that represented the university, they’re not all perfect. I mean, we all know that, but I’ve had a lot of high-character kids that have been wonderful to coach and I’m proud of how they’re turning out.”