Head coach Jimmy Patsos of the Loyola reacts against the Ohio… (Jared Wickerham, Getty…)
Even though the whole thing was handled in a hush-hush way that doesn't make much sense, Loyola University did the right thing Wednesday when it agreed to a new multi-year deal with Jimmy Patsos.
We'll get to the hush-hush part in a moment. But for now, know that Patsos has a new contract extension to coach the Greyhounds' men's basketball team for the next five years, and he couldn't be more thrilled.
"That was all that was ever important to me, staying at Loyola," Patsos said . "The money was never an issue. You want to coach and be loyal to the kids that are going to be here.
"My athletic director (Jim Paquette) is from Boston, Father Linnane (university president Rev. Brian F. Linnane) is from Boston and I'm from Boston. I don't think there has been a quicker, more peaceful negotiation ever between people from Boston than we had."
OK, now for the hush-hush stuff.
Patsos himself confirmed he had a new deal yesterday, although he wouldn't talk about its length — a university source disclosed that — or any financial terms.
But when I asked Loyola athletic director Jim Paquette about the deal, he said: "We're a private school and we don't discuss personnel matters."
Then, in the next breath, he said: "We are very, very excited about what Jimmy's done for this program and what he can do for the program in the future."
Hey, Loyola: isn't this good news?
You just signed a smart, passionate young guy to coach your basketball team, a guy who just led the Greyhounds to a wildly successful season and their first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years.
Why no news conference to tell the world?
Why not even a press release?
I don't understand that one at all.
Anyway, as clumsily as it was handled, the school made the right decision to lock up Patsos for the near future.
How could it not give him a contract extension after the Greyhounds went 24-9 and won the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament to go to the Big Dance for the first time since 1994?
Sure, the No. 15-seed Greyhounds lost 78-59 to No.. 2-seed Ohio State in the first round of the East Regional.
But can we all agree the Buckeyes are a pretty good team?
Anyone notice they're in the Final Four? And that another Loyola opponent, little team by the name of Kentucky, made it that far, too, after beating the Greyhounds 87-63 in December?
"To see how Ohio State and Kentucky are doing now, it kind of validates that we're a good team," Patsos said. "We held our own with them. Now we have to build on that."
Ultimately, that's why Patsos got the new deal: he's been steadily building the Greyhounds' basketball program since he got there eight years ago.
After 13 seasons as an assistant coach under Gary Williams at Maryland, Patsos took over a Loyola team that went 1-27 a year earlier. He started recruiting tough kids from Baltimore and the rest of Maryland, told them the program was going big-time, with TV games and everything.
He told them they didn't have to go away to be a big deal, that they could be a big deal right there at the little Catholic school on the corner of Charles and Cold Spring.
Which leads us to another reason Loyola was smart to extend Patsos' contract: when you resurrect a program and win 24 games and go to the NCAA tournament, other schools get interested in you in a hurry.
And even though he downplays it, there were other schools interested in Jimmy Patsos.
"I had a couple of serious offers to interview, that's all," he said. "Interview. It does not mean you're getting a job."
Right. Doesn't mean you won't get it, either.
But none of that matters now because Patsos is staying put and he's happy about that. I asked him if he had told his players the good news.
"They don't care!" he bellowed in mock outrage. "All they're worried about is going to class and when the next workout is!"
Then, after a moment: " Ah, the players never thought I was going anywhere."
Neither, apparently, did Patsos. That seems pretty clear now.
Before I hung up with him , I asked what he planned to do to celebrate. He said he was going downtown to the Sports Legends Museum, where they were holding "An Evening with Gary Williams" to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Maryland winning the NCAA championship.
After that, he said, he was heading out to dinner with his old boss.
"He's still buying 'cause he makes a lot more than I do," Patsos said with a laugh.
Stick the mentor with the check. Perfect.
Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."
Breaking down the numbers
A look at the highlights from the Greyhounds 2011-12 season under coach Jimmy Patsos.
24 — Record number of Division I wins for Loyola
13 — Record wins in the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference
122 — Number of career wins for Patsos in his eight seasons at Loyola
18 — Amount of years between NCAA tournament appearances for Loyola
4 — Most Loyola players ever to receive All-MAAC honors