No coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball has done it better. In five seasons as a Butler’s head coach, Brad Stevens has compiled a record of success unmatched in NCAA annals.
The 35-year-old Butler coach has led the Bulldogs to a 139-40 record, four Horizon League regular season championships, three league tournament titles and five trips to postseason tournament play. He owns the top two single season win totals in Butler and Horizon League history, and he’s the only coach in school and league history to lead a team to the NCAA Division I national championship game, something he’s done twice!
Stevens, who owns two Horizon League Coach of the Year awards, has rewritten the NCAA record book for Best Coaching Starts by Wins, He captured the five-year record (139), moving ahead of Everett Case of North Carolina State (1947-51) in 2011-12, and he owns the three-year (89) and four-year (117) records. He’s second on the two-year list with 56 wins.
This past season (2001-12), Stevens led a young Butler team to a 20-win season, a third place finish in the Horizon League regular season race and a return trip to postseason play. He helped the Bulldogs to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament and to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational. One year earlier, he guided Butler to a 28-10 campaign, a league-record fifth consecutive Horizon League regular season championship, a second straight league tournament title, a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and a second straight national runner-up finish.
In 2009-10, Stevens engineered the most remarkable season in Butler basketball history! The Bulldogs posted a 33-5 overall record, the Horizon League’s first 18-0 conference mark and fourth overall unbeaten record, a fourth consecutive league regular season championship, a second Horizon League Tournament crown in three years and a national runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs were nationally-ranked for the fourth straight year, and Butler compiled a school-record, 25-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in the nation! The Butler coach was named NABC All-District 12 Coach, and he was a finalist for several additional national coaching awards. Butler ended the season as the No. 2-ranked team in the final ESPN/USA Today national poll.
In his debut season in 2007-08, Stevens helped Butler become the first team in school and Horizon League history to record 30 wins. The 30-4 Bulldogs captured the Great Alaska Shootout, won a second consecutive Wooden Tradition trophy, and wrapped up Horizon League regular season and tournament championships. Butler won a first-round NCAA Tournament game, before falling in overtime to #5 Tennessee in the second round. The Bulldogs were ranked in the “Top 25” of the A. P. and ESPN/USA Today national polls for 19 consecutive weeks, including a record three weeks in the “Top 10.” Butler set school- and league-records for regular season wins (27) and became just the second team in league history to record 16 league victories.
Only three coaches in NCAA Division I history – Bill Guthridge, North Carolina (34), Bill Hodges, Indiana State (33) and Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh (31) – posted more first-year wins than the Butler coach. And at 31, Stevens became the third-youngest Division I coach to guide his team to 30 wins – the youngest in more than half a century!
In addition to becoming the first men’s basketball coach in Butler history to lead the Bulldogs to 30 wins, Stevens broke the 34-game Butler coaching record (28-6) shared by three coaches. He moved into seventh place on Butler’s all-time list for coaching victories after just one season.
His second season produced perhaps an even more remarkable record! He guided a Butler team picked fifth in the Horizon League, with no seniors and just one returning starter, to 26 wins, a “Top 25” national ranking, a second consecutive league regular season championship and another trip to the NCAA Tournament. He recorded his 50th career win faster than any other coach in Butler men’s basketball history, and faster than all but four coaches in Division I history! Only Guthridge (58-14, 1998-99) posted more wins in his first two seasons! Stevens was the mid-season recipient of the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year Award, and he was cited as the Horizon League Coach of the Year.
Stevens was introduced as the new men’s basketball head coach at Butler University on April 4, 2007, just three days after his former boss, Todd Lickliter, was named head coach at the University of Iowa. He became the third consecutive former Butler assistant coach to be named head coach of the Bulldogs, and he served under the previous two – Thad Matta and Lickliter.
Stevens worked with Lickliter for six seasons, 2001-07. During his tenure as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs, Butler compiled a 131-61 record, won three Horizon League regular season championships and made four trips to postseason tournament play. In 2006-07, Butler compiled a 29-7 record and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs won the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden in New York, and the team was ranked in the “Top 25” of both the Associated Press (A.P.) and ESPN/USA Today national polls for 16 consecutive weeks.
Stevens joined the Bulldogs’ staff in 2000-01 as coordinator of basketball operations, handling a variety of administrative duties. He was offered a full-time assistant coaching position by Lickliter in 2001-02.
The Butler coach left a position as a marketing associate at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis to pursue a career in basketball coaching. He served in a volunteer capacity in Butler’s basketball office during the summer of 2000, before eventually gaining a full-time administrative position under Matta.
Stevens, who is a member of the NABC Board of Directors and serves as Chairman of the NABC Ethics Committee, earned a B.A. degree in economics from DePauw in 1999. He was a four-year member of the basketball team at DePauw, earning the squad’s “Coaches Award” in 1998-99. He and his wife, Tracy, have two children, son Brady and daughter Kinsley.