DePaul Extends Bruno's Contract Through 2018-19 Season
Oct. 18, 2013
CHICAGO – DePaul has made sure that one of the greatest coaches in the history of its athletics department will continue to hone his craft through the 2018-19 season.
Doug Bruno’s contract extension means the iconic leader of the Blue Demon women’s basketball program will have coached for 33 years in Lincoln Park by 2019.
“I want to thank DePaul for its faith in extending my contract, and all the assistant coaches and players who have made this possible,” said Bruno, who has led the Blue Demons to 11 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances including Sweet 16 berths in 2005-06 and 2010-11. “We are deeply involved in recruiting the junior class in high school right now.
“This allows me to walk into the living rooms of top recruits where their parents want to know if the coach their daughter signs up with is going to be there for four years. This recruiting class of 2015 will be the DePaul senior class of 2019.”
Bruno has been the heart and soul of an extremely successful basketball program that’s qualified for the NCAA tournament 18 times since 1990 and ranked No. 2 in the nation academically last season.
He is highly respected nationwide as a pioneer and outspoken crusader for women’s basketball from the young kids that attend his basketball camp all the way to the WNBA.
“This is a really important opportunity for us to continue coach Bruno’s contract,” said DePaul Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto who was the team captain during Bruno's first coaching stint.“He has had tremendous success as evidenced by the 18 appearances in the NCAA tournament since 1990.
“Even more important is the terrific academic success his student-athletes have achieved. He provides the leadership and inspiration towards their collective team goals and their own future success as young women entering their professional lives.
“Doug’s national reputation in the basketball world is extraordinary. He was president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and continues to be a driving force in that organization. His accomplishments have been lauded across the nation and recognized by the NCAA leadership and basketball purists around the country.
“He has made his mark internationally in leading USA national teams to multiple gold medals. Doug was the assistant coach on the USA team that won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.”
No matter how much Bruno has accomplished in his life, there is a passion and a drive to climb even higher.
“I always believe I’m on a one-year deal,” said Bruno whose DePaul connection dates back to playing for legendary coach Ray Meyer in the early 1970s. “No matter what the contract says, you’re only as good as your last game. This is a profession of production. As we embark on a new season, I realize you’re only as good as your last season.
“We are one of only nine schools to reach the NCAA tournament 11 years in a row. Of those nine, we are the only one to also finish as high as No. 2 in the nation academically.
“In light of all that, there is more to achieve. I feel a great responsibility to advance this program another level higher. We want to put ourselves in a position to fight for an NCAA championship every year.”
Dwelling on past glory has never been the Bruno way.
“This extension has reflective components to it,” Bruno said. “But you can’t stagnate on what you’ve done. We have to pursue higher levels of achievement.
“In the first year of the revamped BIG EAST, the coaches previewed us as the No. 1 team and Brittany Hrynko as the Preseason Player of the Year. We accept and embrace our previews but understand that all that counts is what we do as reviews and not previews.
"All the teams rated No. 1 through No. 5 are very close, and the competitive strength of the BIG EAST means that teams six through 10 are capable of beating anyone else.
“Collectively, all of us have to make our new league great. Take it to the level of the last eight years and move forward. We need to make the existing BIG EAST as strong as the previous conference. That’s our charge.”
Bruno clearly recalls driving a truck for the park district in the summer of 1975 and going into Kelly’s afterwards on a Thursday night where he first ran into DePaul athletic director Gene Sullivan.
Not long after, “Sully” hired the 24-year-old as an assistant athletic director overseeing facilities, the ticket and business offices and also doing color commentary on the men’s basketball telecasts. As if that wasn’t enough, Sullivan added the additional duty of coaching women’s basketball in the 1976-77 season.
“I coached women’s basketball for free along with all my duties as assistant AD,” Bruno said. “When I asked for some compensation, it was the only time Gene Sullivan ever yelled at me.
“Sully envisioned the beginning of the DePaul basketball renaissance. He mortgaged his house so he could buy TV time. There were several factors that came together to create the perfect DePaul renaissance storm.
“We had a legendary coach in Ray Meyer. There was a team on the cusp of greatness with players like Dave Corzine, Joe Ponsetto, Randy Ramsey and Curtis Watkins. Sullivan and DePaul chose to become much more than that little Catholic school under the El tracks.
Sully worked out a TV deal that wound up becoming superstation WGN-TV televising our games all over the country. And finally, coach Ray hiring his son Joey Meyer as a full-time assistant focusing on recruiting.”
Bruno enjoyed doing the color commentary to the staccato play-by-play of local legend Red Rush. He called it “an honor” to have that job added onto his myriad of other responsibilities.
There’s a momentary quiver in his voice as he recalls working the final game that Providence visionary Dave Gavitt coached in Alumni Hall before eventually becoming the BIG EAST’s first commissioner. Bruno’s voice softens as he describes calling the last game Evansville ever played---at Alumni Hall---before the fatal plane crash several days later.
How does someone sign up for a gig that's set to last 33 years and counting.
“I love DePaul, and I was blessed to play here,” Bruno said. “If Coach Ray doesn’t give me a chance to play, none of this happens. It was Coach Ray who opened the door. I don’t get to know all of my great teammates if not for Coach Ray.
“I don’t get to know Dr. Patricia Ewers and so many of my professors and teachers. There was Father Ed Riley. People were all so good to me, and that’s the reason I fell in love with this place.”
He remembers finding his way as a 25-year-old coach with the help of an insightful and talented basketball player.
“Jeanne was the best captain I’ve ever had in my total of 40 years coaching in this game,” Bruno said. “She is No. 1 and Sarah Kustok No. 1-A. That first team had Jeanne, Karen Loiacono, Patti Hie---great people.
“Being such a young coach, I needed some help---especially in the locker room. Jeanne was my go-to person for all of that and it’s where she was so impactful. It was a chance to become close to the person who ultimately became my boss.”
And now that boss will watch her former coach usher in a new era of BIG EAST women’s basketball and hopefully one day soon watch him coaching in an NCAA Final Four.