Saint Mary's, coach Randy Bennett reach 10-year contract

Saint Mary's men's basketball coach Randy Bennett has signed a 10-year contract extension that will keep him with the Gaels through the 2026-27 season, the school announced Friday.

Bennett is entering his 17th season at the small private school in Northern California, where he has guided the Gaels to unprecedented success. The team enters the season ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and is coming off back-to-back 29-win seasons, tied for the school record.

"I'm appreciative and thankful to President [James] Donahue, [athletic director] Mike Matoso and the Saint Mary's administration for their support," Bennett said in a statement. "It's an honor to have this opportunity to work at such a great institution."

The Gaels are 365-158 during Bennett's tenure and have reached the NCAA tournament six times. In each year since 2008, the program has participated in either the NCAA tournament or the NIT. Before Bennett arrived, no coach had led the program to more than one postseason appearance.

Asked Thursday whether he ever reflects on his lengthy tenure, Bennett said that at times he does.

"When you get started, you're just trying to survive," he said. "As you move along and all of a sudden it's 10 years, it's 15 years and then you look around you and there is hardly anybody around that was coaching when you started in the west.

"I don't know what it means. One, it means we've had a lot of good players and I've had a lot of good assistants. I've been in a situation where they appreciate what we've done."

Over the past 10 years, Saint Mary's has the fifth-best winning percentage (.776) in the country.

"Randy represents what Saint Mary's College is all about. He exemplifies the College's ongoing commitment to the development of our student-athletes," Donahue said in a statement. "He is not only a remarkable coach, but he is a valued and respected leader on our campus. We are excited to have him committed to this long-term agreement and look forward to him leading Saint Mary's basketball for the next decade."

The Gaels open the season at home against St. Francis on Saturday.