Greg Paulus' unconventional road after Duke leads him to head coaching job at Niagara

Sporting News

Greg Paulus became a Division I head coach through an unconventional path, and not just because he played both point guard at Duke and quarterback at Syracuse.

At 33, Paulus was named head coach of the Niagara Purple Eagles. There no longer is an “interim” attached to his name, and he was presented with a multi-year contract to run the school’s men’s basketball program.

"Since his first day on campus, Greg has exhibited a high level of professionalism and dedication to our student-athletes," athletic director Simon Gray said in the school’s release. "His leadership abilities have only strengthened in the past weeks and he has impressed throughout our evaluation of him as our next head coach. I have had the privilege of talking with his extensive network and appreciate the praise for his character, work ethic, and knowledge of the game.

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"Greg has proven to be an effective recruiter and positive presence on campus and in the community."

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Paulus became the interim coach when Patrick Beilein resigned Oct. 24 for personal reasons. It was the second time in 29 months that a staff of which Paulus was a member experienced a major offseason disruption. The previous one occurred in June 2017, when Ohio State and coach Thad Matta mutually agreed he would leave the program. That put Paulus out of a job less than a month after his wedding.

He then spent a year as an assistant under interim Louisville coach David Padgett, stepping in to help the Cardinals negotiate the aftermath of Rick Pitino’s dismissal in 2017-18. He moved on to work at George Washington, but he arrived too late to help Maurice Joseph avoid dismissal in March, following a 9-24 season.

And now Paulus is the guy in charge at Niagara. At the very least, he has some interesting life lessons to teach.

At the most, he’s an appealing personality who has learned from two of the best coaches in the modern game. He played for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, appearing in 139 games and starting 100, scoring 1,193 points and compiling 468 assists. He coached for four seasons under Matta, who has sent such former assistants as Sean Miller, Archie Miller, John Groce, Jeff Boals and Alan Major on to head coaching jobs.

In between, he appeared as a quarterback for Syracuse as a grad transfer, appearing in 12 games and passing for more than 2,000 yards.

Paulus called it “an honor” and a privilege to be taking over the Niagara program. The Eagles have had only one winning season since Joe Mihalich left to coach Hofstra in 2013, but they made two NCAA Tournament appearances and had four 20-win seasons during his tenure, which began in 1998-99.

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