Once viewed as college basketball's ultimate stepping stone job, Xavier is going to great lengths to cement its status as a destination for top coaches rather than a stopping point.
The Musketeers and third-year coach Chris Mack agreed to a lucrative new seven-year deal on Tuesday that goes through the 2017-18 season. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but athletic director Mike Bobinski described it as the "most comprehensive agreement" ever offered to a Xavier head coach.
"Chris is much more than just one of the best young coaches in college basketball," Bobinski said in a statement. "We believe he is one of the best coaches in college basketball and that our program will excel both on and off the court under his leadership in the years ahead."
Keeping Mack as long as possible is especially important to a Xavier program that has served as a launching point for successful coaches like Sean Miller, Thad Matta and the late Skip Prosser. The Musketeers have poured money into their program to achieve that goal, building the state-of-the-art Cintas Center, investing in charter flights and playing a national-caliber schedule each season.
Mack has turned down opportunities to interview for various top job openings this spring after he led the shorthanded Musketeers to another Atlantic 10 championship, and there's reason to believe he may remain in Cincinnati for a while. Not only is he a Cincinnati native and Xavier alum, he also chose to leave Prosser's staff at Wake Forest in 2004 to come back to the Musketeers as an assistant even though the Demon Deacons were ranked No. 2 in the nation entering the next season.
"That was a lateral move in many people's eyes, but I did that for a couple reasons," Mack told me last August. "I really believe in the mission of Xavier and the success that we've had. And I'm from Cincinnati and my wife's from Louisville, which is 90 minutes from here. We wanted our kids to know who their grandparents are. Those two reasons haven't changed and I don't see them changing. So because of that, I could see myself being the coach here for a long, long time."