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Crowley to stay at Bonaventure for long term

The typical college basketball story line goes something like this: Mid-major team has a successful year. Coach gets lots of national attention. Coach gets offers from other schools, usually bigger programs in a bigger conference. Coach takes the opportunity with mixed emotions.

Ah, but when did the St. Bonaventure women's basketball program ever follow the typical story line?

Monday afternoon the school made it official, announcing that head coach Jim Crowley signed a contract extension. The deal keeps Crowley on the bench through the 2018-19 season. Last June, Crowley and Bona had agreed to an extension through the 2016-17 season.

Details of the deal were not disclosed, but aside from adding years to Crowley's tenure, St. Bonaventure increased its overall financial commitment to the program.

And that was part of his decision to stay.

"It's certainly a factor," Crowley said. "Not only did they step up with the years, but with other things. They helped out with my staff and made a full commitment to the program. They stepped up big time."

It would be difficult for an athletic department not to step up for Crowley and his program.

This season, the Bonnies not only made their first ever NCAA women's basketball tournament with an at-large berth, they advanced to the Sweet 16, losing to national runner-up Notre Dame. Bona won a record 31 games, went undefeated in the Atlantic 10 in the regular season and earned a national ranking for the first time.

For his part, Crowley was named the A-10 Coach of the Year, the ESPN.com National Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year.

No wonder people were whispering about Crowley moving on to a different job. But Crowley, a Binghamton native with a soft spot for the Buffalo Bills and dry humor, felt it was the right time to stay.

"Stuff started to happen quickly at the end of year," Crowley said. "You're always intrigued when other people come calling, but you have to take a look at what you have and not just jump when something new comes around. I have something good. My family is in Olean. I have great friends in Olean. I work at a place that I believe in and that believes in me.

"I love Western New York. And the Bills are looking good. You can't leave now that the Bills are going in the direction. The question is really why would I leave. Things are good. That's not to say I stay forever. There are always opportunities that may grab you, but for now, there's no reason why I would leave."

His decision to stay was also greatly influence by his working relationship with athletic director Steve Watson.

"He lets you do your job," Crowley said. "He gives you the tools to do your job better, but he doesn't micromanage. He doesn't get in your way. He makes sure you have the things you need to get it done, and that's really special. He stuck by me and made a great hire in [men's basketball coach Mark Schmidt]. He hides from the spotlight, which is different in this business. He's the guy you want to keep working for."

The Bonnies will graduate four seniors including three starters -- Jessica Jenkins, Megan Van Tatenhove and Armelia Horton. Starters Alania Walker and Doris Ortega along with CeCe Dixon and Chelsea Bowker will return. Five players have signed National Letters of Intent to join the program next season.

"Next year is going to be different, something everyone has to be ready for," Crowley said. "But hopefully our mentality stays the same. What we've done to be successful doesn't mean the same thing for every group, but we have a consistency with the players returning. We'll have some growing pains. We're ready for those, but we'll keep trying to move forward and set our goals high."

email: amoritz@buffnews.com