When Phoenix Suns legend Dan Majerle was named the head coach at Grand Canyon University in March of 2013, many were surprised.
Majerle had just served as an assistant coach for the Suns for five seasons and may have been in the pipeline for some head coaching opportunities in the NBA.
The 2013-14 season would be GCU’s first in Division I, so the powers that be wanted to make a splash. Enter Majerle, who has guided the ‘Lopes to a 29-26 record since taking over the program.
The second-year head coach hopes this is the start of a long-term stay at the central Phoenix campus.
“God willing, I don’t see myself leaving Grand Canyon,” Majerle responded when asked by Doug and Wolf during Newsmakers Week on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM if he could see himself coaching again in the NBA.
“I’m loyal. They hired me to do something here at GCU and I said ‘I’m going to do it.’ That’s to be a top-25 program. Hopefully I’ll be here for as long as they’ll have me and we’ll get that done.”
Majerle certainly has the GCU program headed in the right direction. The ‘Lopes are tied for second place in the Western Athletic Conference with six games remaining in the season.
Unfortunately, the team is also in the middle of a four-year probationary period which coincided with their elevation to Division I and keeps them ineligible for the postseason, including the conference tournament. Majerle is frustrated by the rule, but keeps that frustration in its proper place.
“I don’t let it drive me crazy,” he said. “Our job as a coaching staff is to continue to build this program and be ready when this four years is over.
“And then hit the ground running and be ready, but that’s what we’re concentrating on. And it is frustrating because when you go out and try to recruit, it’s a tough deal. High school kids look and the (NCAA Tournament) is a big deal.”
Majerle has no choice but to be patient right now. The university filed a waiver to gain eligiblity to play in the WAC Tournament, which will be held March 11-14 in Las Vegas. That request was denied.
Despite that, the head coach is content with where he is.
“I’m so happy to be here in Phoenix and to be at GCU as part of a growing program and to work with the people I work with,” he said. “I was hired to do a job here and I’m happy with that. I don’t need to go back to the NBA. Now, whether I do, I don’t know.
“I want to stay at GCU and I want to build a program and I want to be the next Gonzaga or Wichita State or Butler. I want that to happen at GCU and I want to the man who does it.”