After eight seasons and an 88-148 career record at UC Davis, Gary Stewart will no longer coach the men’s basketball team.
In an announcement Wednesday morning, Athletic director Greg Warzecka said that while Stewart won’t be coach, he will stay at UC Davis as a special project administrator.
“It was a mutual decision,” Warzecka said. “For anyone that’s been in college coaching for 20 to 25 years, it can burn you up and wear you out.
“[Stewart] is excited about the talent on the team and the future direction. He feels like this is a good time for him to take one of his different career paths and give UC Davis a chance to hire a new coach and move forward.”
Both Stewart and Warzecka agreed this was the right time for the eighth-year coach to step down.
“I have had a wonderful experience coaching basketball at UC Davis,” Stewart said. “I truly believe the timing is right for me and the timing is right for the basketball program. We have some talented student athletes in the program and I am enthusiastically looking forward to watching their continued growth and development.”
During his time at UC Davis, Stewart oversaw the transition from Division II to Division I. Warzecka said the transition was probably the most difficult part.
Warzecka said that no outside influences factored in to the decision-making process – the choice was made between him and Stewart.
“I’ve been in this for many, many decades and those influences don’t influence me,” Warzecka said.
Despite stepping down as men’s basketball coach, Stewart will stay at UC Davis as a member of the athletic department. He will work with senior level administrators on assigned projects deemed necessary and appropriate to assist in the advancement of the athletics program.
Stewart will also keep his position as a lecturer in the physical education department.
Junior Eddie Miller, who was UC Davis’ leading non-senior scorer last season, is grateful for the opportunity Stewart gave him as a transfer student and trusts the opinion of the athletic department in making the choice.
“It was the administration’s decision,” Miller said. “It was not an easy situation to deal with and it was uncomfortable for everyone involved. The decision was based on the athletic department and their best judgment.”
Miller said the team will continue to work hard this off-season in anticipation of competing next year.
Warzecka said the search for the new coach will start immediately and said the phone has already started ringing.
“We’re looking for the person who is the right fit. [Someone] who, philosophically, understands the program and understands the high quality of students that must be recruited here.”
There is no definite timetable as to when the new coach will be hired, but Warzecka said he would like the process to be completed by June.
JASON ALPERT can be reached at email@example.com