After what was essentially a yearlong interview, Shane Burcar will return as the Northern Arizona men's basketball head coach.
The school elected to remove the interim tag and announced via a press release Wednesday afternoon that Burcar would remain at the helm going forward. Details of Burcar's contract were not released.
As the interim head coach this season, Burcar led Northern Arizona to its best season in years, surpassing the win totals of the previous four seasons. The Lumberjacks went 16-14 overall, 10-10 in the Big Sky and battled for a top-five spot in the conference before ultimately falling in the first round of the conference tournament as the sixth seed to 11th-seeded Idaho State before the tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus.
Despite working with uncertainty in terms of his position all season, Burcar never sounded discouraged about his job prospects, saying he trusts the process and that he was confident in himself.
He did admit in a statement released by Northern Arizona Athletics on Wednesday that the season was difficult due to not knowing what the future looked like for himself and his coaching staff.
"This season was the greatest challenge for myself and our staff not knowing what the future held," Burcar said. "I was impressed with our players -- we didn't lose anyone before the season started -- and I'm thankful to our players, their parents and our incoming freshmen. We're going to have the right people here with our current roster, our players coming in and our staff, and we're just scratching the surface to be a consistent winner in the Big Sky."
Northern Arizona was quiet in giving details about the coaching search, only releasing that it was ongoing for the better part of the past six months.
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After the search Mike Marlow, Northern Arizona Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, ultimately landed on Burcar as the choice.
"Despite very broad interest from outstanding coaches throughout the western United States and beyond, at the end of the day, Shane Burcar exhibited the most impassioned and thoughtful vision for Lumberjack Basketball," Marlow said in a statement. "I could not be more excited to announce that Shane emerged as our top choice."
The Lumberjacks drastically improved in Burcar's shortened season at the helm, which he took over as interim head coach late into the offseason last June. Northern Arizona went from 330th in the NCAA in scoring offense at 65.6 points per game to 157th for 73 points per game.
There was excitement around the program that hadn't been felt since the program made the CIT postseason tourney in 2014-15. Many coaches around the Big Sky took notice, praising the work Burcar did to rebuild the Lumberjacks on short notice.
The Lumberjacks were going to play in some sort of postseason tourney, but the cancellations axed that and cut the playoffs short.
Burcar will have most of his roster back next season, only losing Brooks DeBisschop and Chris Bowling to graduation. But he also will need to work to replace former All-Conference forward Bernie Andre, who entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal as a graduate transfer.
Returners Cameron Shelton, Luke Avdalovic and Cameron Satterwhite are among the key players expected to make an impact next year, along with a strong crop of newcomers.
Due to concerns over the spreading coronavirus, Burcar will be formally introduced as Northern Arizona's head coach in a virtual press conference Friday afternoon.
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