Steve Wojciechowski Becomes 17th MU Coach

Steve Wojciechowski

In his 15 seasons as an associate head coach at Duke University, Steve Wojciechowski had plenty of opportunities to leave. He was an up-and-coming coach on the rise, who was under the tutelage of one of college basketball's greatest generals for 19 years as a coach and player at his alma mater. Despite the many chances to forge his own path, Wojciechowski didn't want to leave it just

for the sake of having his own program

"I have had other opportunities and I may have come close (to leaving) maybe one other time," Wojciechowski said. "I wasn't going to leave for just any job. I was only going to leave for the job that I thought is the perfect job for me and I feel Marquette is that place.

[President-Elect Dr. Michael R. Lovell]

At the end of the day, it just felt right." Wojciechowski was selected amongst what interim athletic director Bill Cords hailed as the strongest field of coaches he's ever seen in his years in the athletic department. After rumors about Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart, former UCLA coach Ben Howland and Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, Cords, interim president Father Robert Wild S.J. and incoming president Dr. Michael Lovell decided to offer the job to the only assistant coach Marquette considered.

"We were looking for someone that could take us to where our vision is and our vision has always been to get to the top," Cords said. "Steve has been to the top twice. He comes from a culture that expects every time to try to get to the top and they get there sometimes. He will bring all of that with him to Marquette."

A big factor that swayed Wojciechowski's decision was the investment that Marquette puts in its basketball program. The Golden Eagles have the second-highest basketball budget in the nation, next to only Wojciechowski's former employer, Duke.

"Marquette's a basketball school," Wojciechowski said."The fact that basketball is big in the culture of the university and woven into the fabric of who the university is played a huge role. I'm coming from a place like that. There's not a lot of those schools out there and to me that was incredibly attractive."

Marquette introduced Wojciechowski as the 17th head coach in school history at a press conference that was opened to the public and held at the Al McGuire Center on Tuesday afternoon. Wojciechowski said Marquette is a program he has kept his eyes on for a while.

"Marquette is a place that I've admired from a distance for a long time," Wojciechowski said. "In the last two days, I've had a chance to experience it up close and personal and it's exceeded every expectation."

[Interim Athletic Director Bill Cords]

Wojciechowski played guard for four seasons under Mike Krzyzewski, earning national defensive player of the year honors in 1998. After attempting to play professionally in Poland, Wojciechowski came back to Duke as an assistant coach. In his 15 years on Duke's sideline, he has been a part of six Sweet Sixteen appearances, three Final Four trips and two national championships in the 2000-01 and 2009-10 seasons. He also assisted on the staff that coached the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic teams.

"I am so fortunate to have a lot of tremendous role models that have helped me along the way," Wojciechowski said. "There have been none bigger than Coach K. What I learned from him as a player and a coach have been invaluable. He's allowed me to understand just how fun and incredible the game of basketball is, but when used the right way, can change your life."

One of the reasons former head coach Buzz Williams fled from Marquette to Virginia Tech was for the opportunity to leave the Big East and coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Wojciechowski said the conference was a big draw because it is exclusively a basketball conference.

"I love the fact that it's a basketball conference," Wojciechowski said. "Things are driven so much in today's day in age by football. To come to a place where basketball is the thing, where there's so many storied traditions and great schools is something that I'm incredibly excited about. I look at the conference as a real positive in my decision making."

As a player, Wojciechowski was known for his fiery and emotional attitude on the court. One of his antics was slapping the floor before a defensive possession. Wojciechowski said he believes that passionate style will aid him as a head coach.

"I'm as competitive as they come," Wojciechowski said. "I love the game of basketball and think it should be played hard all the time. That's the way I tried to play and it served me well."

[Steve and Lyndsay Wojciechowski]

One of the first things Wojciechowski will have to do is convince his incoming recruits to stick with the program. One recruit, Sandy Cohen, mistakenly announced his release from his national letter of intent, even though Marquette's policy permits recruits from leaving the program until they have spoken with the newly hired coach.

Wojciechowski said his sales pitch is to tell those recruits that they have a chance to be a part of a new age of Marquette basketball.

"I think we have a chance to build something that's uniquely ours," Wojciechowski said. "I want them to be a part of what I believe is going to be a special era of Marquette basketball. I hope they will believe in me enough to want to do that."

Wojciechowski will inherit nine players from the 2013-14 Golden Eagles, all of which were recruited by Williams. He said his experience as a student-athlete allows him to empathize with the transition to a new head coach.

[MU's returning players look on at press conference]

"I understand where they're coming from," Wojciechowski said. "My priority is to work on the relationships that they have here. I want the players to trust me and I think trust is built by telling the truth and doing the best every day and that was my promise to them." Williams' sudden departure added a criteria of loyalty for the new head coach. Marquette needed someone who wouldn't jump ship for greener pastures or see the program as a stepping stone.

Wojciechowski emphasized that his 15 years at Duke are an example of his dedication to his new school.

"If you talk to people about me, I'm a very loyal guy and I have amazing loyalty to Duke University and Coach K," Wojciechowski said. "I can't wait to have that same loyalty to Marquette and this program."

[Jack and Charlie check out the Golden Eagle]

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