Men’s basketball: Graves lands new gig

After 17 years in the Butler men’s basketball program, Associate Head Coach Matthew Graves is leaving to become the head coach at University of South Alabama.

“At South Alabama, I think you are looking at a position that right now is one of the top jobs in the Sun Belt (Conference) with everything from resources to location to facilities,” Graves said in a press release.  “What I found throughout this process is that the people are tremendous, much like those I’ve worked with at Butler University.”

South Alabama’s Director of Athletics Joel Erdmann made the announcement Monday at a press conference.

“The pool of finalists was filled with top-notch basketball coaches and basketball minds,” Erdmann said in a press release. “As the process transpired, it became very clear that the right man for the job was Matthew Graves.”

Graves played for Butler from 1993 to 1998. He was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs during the 1996-97 season and helped take the team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 35 years.

After graduation, Graves started as an assistant coach at North Central and Ben Davis High Schools in Indianapolis before joining the Bulldog staff as coordinator of men’s basketball operations in 2001.

Graves became an assistant coach at Butler in 2003 under former coach Todd Lickliter and was later promoted to associate head coach in 2010.

“I could not be more thrilled for both Matthew and South Alabama,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said in a press release. “He is a terrific person and coach, who will undoubtedly bring great credit to the university.”

While on the Butler staff, Graves was listed No. 2 on CollegeInsider.com’s ranking of the top 25 mid-major assistants in 2009.

The previous South Alabama coach, Ronnie Arrow, retired in December as the winningest coach in the Sun Belt Conference. Associate head coach Jeff Price served as an interim coach the rest of the season, finishing 17-13.

Graves left for South Alabama after Butler’s loss to Marquette in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It was a tough decision, but at the end of the day the thing that made it an easier decision was the people involved,” Graves said in an interview with al.com. “There were tears saying goodbye to people. But at the same time, it’s a new chapter, and I’m excited to call South Alabama home now.”

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