PITTSBURGH (AP) -Duquesne basketball coach Ron Everhart was rewarded for turning around one of the nation's worst Division I basketball programs in only two seasons, signing a three-year contract extension Wednesday that runs through the 2013-14 season.
Duquesne hadn't had a winning season since 1993-94 before it went 17-13 last season, only two seasons after the Dukes were 3-24 under former coach Danny Nee. Everhart's first Dukes team went 10-19 in 2006-07, despite having five players shot following an on-campus party two months before the season began.
Everhart has also dramatically upgraded the Dukes' recruiting, signing players who were recruited not only by other Atlantic 10 Conference programs, but also Big East Conference schools.
Recent signees include B.J. Monteiro, the Connecticut high school player of the year; Aleksandar Milovic, a highly sought European swingman; and Rodrigo Peggau, a promising power forward. The Dukes also signed Melquan Bolding, a 6-foot-4 prep school swingman who initially committed to Louisville.
``I'm fortunate to be part of a program here at Duquesne that has been given a strong commitment for excellence by the administration,'' Everhart said. ``We have a commitment that allows us to compete at the highest level of the Atlantic 10.''
Duquesne president Charles J. Dougherty and athletic director Greg Amodio both praised Everhart for his strong work ethic and for revitalizing a long-dormant program.
Before Everhart arrived, Duquesne had records of 3-24, 8-22, 9-21, 9-20, 5-23 during a run of eight consecutive bad seasons from 1998-99 through 2005-06.
Duquesne, once one of the East's top basketball schools, hasn't been to a postseason tournament since going to the NIT in 1994 and hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1977.
Everhart, formerly the coach at McNeese State and Northeastern, virtually rebuilt Duquesne's roster from scratch following the 2005-06 season, with 10 new players recruited and two others transferring. Everhart was forced to reshape his roster again this spring after junior center Shawn James and junior guard Kojo Mensah declared for the NBA draft.
James and Mensah, unhappy with their playing time last season, sued the school this week, alleging it did not provide adequate security at the on-campus party in September 2006. Both were shot following the party, James in the foot and Mensah in the left arm.
Now that Everhart has reshaped the roster again following a second upheaval in three years, he is looking to build a stable program that is regularly in the mix for deep runs in the Atlantic 10 tournament and also plays regularly in postseason tournaments.
``Being close to home means a lot to me and my family,'' said Everhart, from nearby Fairmont, W.Va.
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