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Jeff Eisenberg

Butler rewards coach Brad Stevens with 12-year extension

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Whatever faint hope Oregon, Clemson or Wake Forest had of luring Brad Stevens vanished Thursday evening when Butler announced its heavily sought-after coach is staying put.

Stevens, who came within a buzzer-beating shot of leading the Bulldogs to their first national title, signed a 12-year contract that extends through the 2021-22 season. Terms of the deal were not announced, but it's safe to assume that Butler made up for its inability to pay as much annually as other schools by giving Stevens job security unheard of for a 33-year-old.

"We are extremely pleased and excited to announce that we've reached a new long-term agreement with Brad," athletic director Barry Collier said in a statement. "Brad has demonstrated that he's the right fit for Butler University, and that he embraces and teaches The Butler Way. Our program has grown under his leadership, and we're excited about our future under his direction."

Stevens' extension seems to signal that he will remain at Butler until one of the nation's preeminent jobs opens at the very least. His predecessor at Butler, Todd Lickliter, left for Iowa after a Sweet 16 run, but lasted only three seasons, ironically getting fired at the same time as the Bulldogs began their run to the championship game.

The other pressing question facing Butler this offseason is whether sophomore forward Gordon Hayward will return for his junior season or enter the NBA draft. If Hayward comes back, the Bulldogs will return all but two members of their rotation and will likely begin next season in the preseason top five.

At the very least, Butler know it will have Stevens.

"[My wife] Tracy and I are thrilled and very thankful for the opportunity to continue to play a role for Butler University," Stevens said in a statement. "We are already looking forward to the 2010-11 season."

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