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Keady to hand reins to Painter after next year

INDIANAPOLIS -- Southern Illinois head coach Matt Painter
resigned Thursday to take an assistant coaching position at Purdue
with the expectation that he will succeed Boilermakers coach Gene
Keady after next season.

Painter, a former guard for the Boilermakers, will be introduced
as Purdue's associate head coach at a news conference Friday, a
Purdue spokesman said. Painter's contract is for six years, with
the last five as head coach. Terms of the deal were not immediately
available.

Painter guided Southern Illinois to a 25-5 record and an NCAA
tournament berth last season. After mulling Purdue's offer for
several days, Painter said the chance to coach at his alma mater
was too good pass up.

"If it were a scenario where it was just a school offering me a
lot of money, I wouldn't have taken the job at this point in my
career," Painter said in a statement posted on SIU's Web site.
"But Purdue wasn't just another school. I have a passion for
Purdue. It's my alma mater. And then there's Gene Keady."

Keady announced last week that he had declined an offer to coach
at the University of San Francisco and would return for his 25th
season at Purdue. He has one year remaining on his contract.

The 67-year-old Keady said he decided to return to West
Lafayette out of loyalty to Purdue and wanted to have a say in who
would succeed him after the 2004-05 season.

Painter, 33, was an instant candidate, having played under Keady
at Purdue from 1989-93 and shown success as a head coach.

Painter first met with Purdue officials on Sunday and said
Tuesday that he was considering the move.

Southern Illinois athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said they
offered Painter a "substantial increase" from his $180,000
salary, but "we can't win a bidding war with Purdue."

"This is a great development for Purdue basketball," Keady
said in a statement posted on the school's Web site. "Ever since
he was a player here, Matt has had one of the sharpest basketball
minds I've ever been around. He eats it, sleeps it and wakes up in
the middle of the night thinking about it."

Southern Illinois planned to introduce Illinois assistant Chris Lowery as Painter's replacement at a news
conference Friday afternoon, the school said.

Under Painter, the Salukis were ranked as high as 15th during
his first season as coach in Carbondale, Ill. Before last season,
he was an assistant for five years under Bruce Weber, a longtime
Keady assistant who became the coach at Illinois.

Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said last week that with
Keady returning for one more season, it was important the school
find a successor soon to ensure a smooth transition and show
recruits that a plan was in place for the future.

"That Matt will get a year of seasoning with a floor general
like Gene is an absolutely ideal situation," Burke said Thursday.

Burke said Purdue was preparing to pursue Painter as a
replacement to Keady had he chosen to leave for San Francisco.

"We couldn't be happier that Gene is our coach for next year,"
Burke said. "But if he had decided to go, we would have
interviewed Matt in a different context."

By accepting the position, Painter leaves behind a promising
team at Southern Illinois. Four of the Salukis' top five scorers
return from a team that won the Missouri Valley Conference last
season and was edged by Alabama in the opening round of the NCAA
tournament.

"He struggled with it because he felt a loyalty here, but it's
one of those opportunities you can't say no to," Kowalczyk said.
"And I understand that."