Coming off a historic run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, Saint Peter’s University is making a coaching hire that shows a commitment to returning to the postseason.
The school is hiring Wagner’s Bashir Mason as its next head coach, sources told ESPN. A deal is expected to be finalized Monday, and the move to bring in an experienced and established coach is indicative of the school’s commitment to keeping the program competitive in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Mason replaces Shaheen Holloway, who returned to his alma mater, Seton Hall, after he led Saint Peter’s on a run to become the first No. 15 seed in NCAA tournament history to reach the Elite Eight.
In hiring Mason, Saint Peter’s shows some of the ambition that can come with experiencing such a run. Mason is an established coach in the Northeast corridor, having led Wagner to three NEC regular-season championships since 2015. He’s also from Jersey City, which is where Saint Peter’s is located, so this makes for a homecoming.
Mason is 165-130 in 10 seasons as Wagner’s head coach and has won more than 62% of his conference games. Among Wagner’s accomplishments in his time there are three Northeast Conference Coach of the Year Awards, an upset of No. 18 UConn in 2016 and an NIT win over St. Bonaventure the same season.
Mason, 38, was the youngest head coach in the country when he got hired in 2012. He replaced Dan Hurley after Hurley left for Rhode Island. Mason also played for Hurley in high school at St. Benedict’s in Newark, New Jersey.
Mason brings a history of consistent and competitive program building. In six of his 10 seasons at Wagner, the school finished in first or second place in the NEC.
He takes on a situation that’s in flux at Saint Peter’s, as five of the school’s top six players have entered the NCAA transfer portal. Saint Peter’s has long been the least supported school in the MAAC in terms of finances, something that athletic director Rachelle Paul said she hoped to change in the wake of the unprecedented run.
The hiring of a sitting head coach is expected to bring with it both a boost in resources as well as staff support for Mason.
A press conference to announce his hiring is expected Wednesday.