During an interview by The News Journal’s Jason Wolf early this week, former Delaware men’s basketball coach Steve Steinwedel admitted publicly for the first time what many always assumed: His resignation in 1995 was not his decision.
Delaware was coming off a sub-.500 season after two straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament that capped a transformation of the basketball program under Steinwedel that began when he arrived on campus in 1985.
So it made no sense for the veteran coach to resign after a 12-15 season with no clear next step, especially given his tenure at Delaware where he compiled a record of 163-121 and guided the Blue Hens to seven consecutive .500 or better seasons, two conference titles and their first two NCAA Tournament appearances, in 1992 and ‘93.
He never coached again, nor was he ever paid full-time to do anything basketball related, instead venturing into what would become a 20-year career as a counselor at nearby Delaware Technical Community College.
He admitted to being unhappy at the time of his resignation about several decisions being made in terms of the future of the basketball program, including the UD administration's unwillingness to even entertain the thought of joining the Atlantic 10 Conference.
But regardless of how or why he left, there’s no question Steinwedel should always be credited with being the forefather of UD’s success on the hardwood floor.
Some naysayers back then said, “Anyone could coach now with full scholarships,” in response to answering the question of why previous coach Ron Rainey didn’t have the type of success Steinwedel did.
But remember, David Henderson had full scholarships too. And the Yankees have an unlimited payroll.
Nowadays when people think about the UD basketball program’s history, the name Mike Brey usually is the first one mentioned. But, with all due respect to Brey — I am one of the ones who always mentions Brey first — I think he is mentioned first because of his success after he left Delaware.
Given the history of the university and all the tangibles that come with it — strong academic program, beautiful campus, prime location — there’s no question that once the athletic department committed to making the basketball program more than intramural worthy, if UD had not appointed Steinwedel to the head coaching position, some other coach would have come in here and started building the foundation.
But only Steinwedel did. And for that reason, he should always be credited for it.
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