John Gallagher and the University of Hartford have come to an agreement in principle on a five-year contract that will keep him as the Hawks men's basketball coach through the 2017-18 season, according to sources.
A contract is expected to be finalized and signed in the coming days, with an announcement from UHart expected later week. Reached Tuesday, Gallagher had no comment. The two parties had been working toward an extension since the end of the 2012-13 season.
Gallagher's initial five-year contract, signed before the 2010-11 season, was set to expire after the 2014-15 season. The final two years of that deal will be replaced by the new deal, which would begin immediately. Salary and other terms of the agreement were unavailable.
Last season was among the best in Hartford history (17-14), and the Hawks are considered to be in a good place to make a significant jump -- and, Gallagher hopes, a push toward the Hawks' first NCAA Tournament appearance in history -- as the six-player core of his initial recruiting class enters its junior season.
Gallagher, a former Hartford assistant under previous coach Dan Leibovitz, is a native of the Philadelphia area who has also been an assistant at La Salle, Lafayette and Pennsylvania. He graduated from St. Joseph's in 1999.
The Hawks were 11-20 in Gallagher's first season with players he inherited. In 2011-12, the Hawks began 0-13 but went 9-9 down the stretch. Mark Nwakamma, now a junior forward, became one of the top players in the America East and was named to the conference's first-team after last season, when Hartford made its first national postseason tournament, losing to Rider in the CIT.
Gallagher and his agent had been working with the university on an extension for much of the offseason.
After an upset loss to Maryland-Baltimore County in the quarterfinals of the America East tournament in Albany March 9, athletic director Pat Meiser said, “I speak for our president and our university: We’re very pleased with John Gallagher as our head coach and we look forward to a future. We want to build a winning tradition of basketball at Hartford and we believe John Gallagher is the right guy to do that. We just have a group of young men that, quite frankly, make us very proud as students and athletes. They really are wonderful. And the fact that our head coach is teaching about life, not just the game, I think at the end of the day I believe that’s a piece of what makes for a consistently strong athletic program.”
The Hawks open Nov. 9 against Quinnipiac at the Connecticut 6 Classic in Bridgeport and will play one of the more difficult non-conference schedules in their history, including road games at Louisville, Washington, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast. The Hawks also play every mid-major Connecticut team for the first time in 16 years.