Dan Majerle badly wanted to be a head coach.
The Suns great, who was an assistant on the team’s coaching staff from 2008 until resigning this season, is finally getting his chance, as he is taking over at Grand Canyon University.
Majerle is replacing Russ Pennell, who guided the Antelopes to a 72-44 record over four seasons — and two postseason appearances in the last two years — but resigned late last week.
“I’m happy about it,” Majerle said Monday after being introduced. “They reached out to me, they decided to go a different direction, and they called and wanted to know if I’d be interested.”
Majerle said he thought about the idea and decided “it was kind of a no-brainer.”
“This is a great university, a growing university and an opportunity to stay in Phoenix, to be a head coach.”
Part of the allure is also the fact that GCU will be transitioning from Division II to Division I next season and Jerry Colangelo, who is a special assistant to school president Brian Mueller, said Majerle was the right choice.
“When you think about a guy who you want to lead a program, who has the kind of presence and has the kind of work ethic that he does,” Colangelo said.
Colangelo believes Majerle’s reputation will have far reaching effects, from putting a coaching staff together to recruiting talent.
Of course Majerle, who has no experience coaching in the collegiate ranks, said the one thing he enjoyed most from his stint on the Suns’ staff was actually coaching, and he’ll get a chance to work with young players in his new role. And while he has plenty to learn about the college game and how to recruit, Majerle is confident he’ll be just fine in his new role.
“I think this is a university that can be a Gonzaga or a Butler or a team like that,” Majerle said, noting other very successful mid-major programs. “That’s why I’m stepping in, that’s why I think I can do it.”