Small's Big Hire
Part II: What is Valparaiso looking for in the next men's basketball coach?
This is the second of a two-part look into the decision to move on from former Valparaiso men’s basketball coach Matt Lottich.
Charles Small is truly in uncharted waters.
It’s not just that Valparaiso’s first-year athletic director made a big decision last Thursday when he moved on from men’s basketball coach Matt Lottich, it’s how unprecedented the move has been in the program’s rich history.
According to newspaper archives, Lottich became the first Valparaiso men’s basketball coach to be relieved of his duties by the school since Paul Meadows was let go on Apr. 6, 1964.
Gene Bartow, who was hired following Meadows’ dismissal, left Valparaiso for Memphis State in 1970. Bill Purden resigned in 1976 to become the athletic director at Tinley Park High School. Ken Rochlitz returned to coach in his native Wyoming in 1980. Tom Smith resigned his post in 1988 to take over Missouri Western College.
Smith’s resignation helped launch the Drew era at Valparaiso. Homer, Scott and Bryce Drew’s tenures were so coordinated that when Homer first retired, Scott was hired on the same day. When Scott left for Baylor, Homer was introduced as the returning head coach in a concurrent news conference as the one occurring in Waco. Finally, when Homer retired for good in 2011, Bryce was appointed the coach at the same press conference.
The Drew era came to an end on Apr. 6, 2016 when Bryce officially left Valparaiso for Vanderbilt. Lottich was announced as Valpo’s new coach the next day and he served in that role until last week.
Last Friday marked the first day since May 10, 1988 that Valparaiso didn’t officially have a men’s basketball coach.
Truly uncharted waters.
With a big vacancy comes a big responsibility and Small was off and running this weekend in working to fill the void. The athletic director spoke to The Victory Bell on Friday in a revealing interview that explained just what he was looking for in a new coach.