OFFICIAL: Paulsen named Head Basketball Coach at Holy Cross

Following up on today’s earlier report. Dave Paulsen has officially been named as the head basketball coach at Holy Cross. Here’s the official release from the school:

The College of the Holy Cross has named Dave Paulsen as its new head men’s basketball coach, Associate Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Kit Hughes announced. Paulsen becomes the 19th head coach in the history of the Crusaders’ storied program and brings 27 years of collegiate head coaching experience to Mount St. James. 

Paulsen will be formally introduced at a press conference on the Holy Cross campus on Thursday, March 30, at 3 p.m.

“Throughout our search process it became even more clear what a special opportunity Holy Cross represents in the basketball community,” Hughes said. “I want to thank all of the coaches who expressed interest in our position, as well as our student-athletes, alumni and community members whose perspective has helped to shape our vision for the future. I could not be more excited to announce Dave Paulsen as the new leader of Crusader men’s basketball. Dave has the first-hand experience necessary to build upon our championship tradition at Holy Cross, and I am eager to support him in returning our program back to the top of the Patriot League. 

“I want to express my most sincere gratitude to the members of our search committee, as well as President Rougeau for his support and faith in our process. I have no doubt that Dave’s track record of successfully building championship basketball programs, his principled leadership, his commitment to academic excellence and integrity, and his deep experience creating genuine and lasting relationships with students, alumni and community members make him an outstanding fit for the College.”

A three-time Patriot League Coach of the Year and two-time Division III National Coach of the Year, Paulsen owns an overall record of 454-305 as a head coach, including time at George Mason, Bucknell, Williams, Le Moyne and St. Lawrence. Throughout his career, he has won four Patriot League regular season titles, two Patriot League Tournament titles and the 2003 NCAA Division III national championship.

Paulsen takes over a Holy Cross program that has participated in 13 NCAA Tournaments, competed in two NCAA Final Fours, won both the 1947 NCAA and 1954 National Invitational Tournament championships and boasts both college and NBA legends among its alumni.

“I am thrilled to be named the head basketball coach at Holy Cross,” Paulsen said. “I have the greatest respect and admiration for the College, its commitment to excellence academically and athletically, and the Jesuit mission of Cura Personalis. Holy Cross basketball is one of the most tradition-rich programs in the nation, and I am honored to join a program where so many greats have played and coached. 

“I want to thank President Rougeau, Director of Athletics Kit Hughes and the rest of the Holy Cross community who welcomed me during the search process. I would also like to thank my family for supporting and encouraging me throughout my coaching journey. My daughters Claire, Sara and Molly are the joy of my life, and I have been blessed to have my wife Kathy as my best friend and partner every step of the way. I can’t wait to get to work with the current players, start forming relationships with the next generation of Crusader student-athletes, and engage with our passionate alumni as well as the great people of Worcester. Go Cross Go!”

For the last two years, Paulsen has been part of the staff at Fordham. In 2022-2023, he helped the Rams to their best season in more than three decades, as Fordham went 25-8 overall and 12-6 in the Atlantic 10. He was also part of a huge turnaround in 2021-2022, as the Rams went 16-16 after winning just two games the previous year.

Paulsen arrived at Fordham after serving as the head coach at George Mason University for six years from 2015-2021, leading the Patriots to a winning record and two top-five Atlantic 10 finishes in his last four seasons. In addition, the Mason program under Paulsen became synonymous with player development as three of his players received the Atlantic 10’s Chris Daniels Most Improved Player Award: A.J. Wilson (2020), Justin Kier (2019) and Marquise Moore (2017).

At George Mason, Paulsen mentored a number of players who went on to successful professional basketball careers, including Moore, Otis Livingston, Shevon Thompson and Jalen Jenkins. Under Paulsen’s tutelage, the Patriots captured a victory in the Atlantic 10 Tournament in five consecutive seasons. 

Prior to his time at George Mason, Paulsen spent seven years as the head coach at Bucknell from 2008-2015, earning Patriot League Coach of the Year honors on three occasions while going 134–94 overall and 74–32 in conference play. The Bison became the first team in Patriot League history to record three straight regular season titles, while totaling four outright regular season championships in his last five years. He led Bucknell to four postseason berths – two NCAA appearances and two NITs – during that span. Paulsen’s 134 victories are third-most all-time in Bucknell history, while his .588 winning percentage is the highest in program history among coaches with 40 or more games. 

During the 2014-2015 season, Paulsen earned Patriot League Coach of the Year honors while leading a young Bucknell squad to an overall mark of 19-15. The Bison earned a first place finish in the conference with a 13-5 record in the regular season and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament. 

In 2012-2013, Paulsen’s squad went 28-6 overall with a 12-2 mark in the Patriot League, claiming both the regular season and tournament titles. That team set a school single-season record for victories, and earned a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In addition, he was selected as the 2013 NABC District 13 Co-Coach of the Year alongside Harvard’s Tommy Amaker.

Paulsen was previously named the Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, making him only the third coach in league history to receive the honor in consecutive years. His 2010-2011 squad went 25-9 overall, 13-1 in the conference, won the Patriot League regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In 2011-2012, Paulsen’s team had an overall mark of 25-10, a 12-2 Patriot League record, won the conference regular season crown and participated in the NIT.

During Paulsen’s tenue, the Bison had 14 All-Patriot League selections, including three Players of the Year (Mike Muscala in 2011 and 2013, Cameron Ayers in 2014) and three Defensive Players of the Year (Bryan Cohen in 2011 and 2012, Muscala in 2013). His student-athletes were also named Academic All-Patriot League six times and Academic All-District three times, with one Academic All-American. In addition, Muscala became Bucknell’s first-ever player in the National Basketball Association, and has enjoyed a 10-year career, including time with the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics.

Prior to Bucknell, Paulsen guided Williams to a 170-53 record in eight seasons from 2000-2008, with the Ephs capturing the 2003 national championship and finishing as the 2004 national runner-up. Paulsen was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches National Coach of the Year in both 2003 and 2004, while his teams won three NESCAC championships (2003, 2004, 2007) and made four NCAA Tournament appearances (2002, 2003, 2004, 2007). He was a three-time NESCAC Coach of the Year and two-time New England Coach of the Year.

Previously, Paulsen served as head coach at Le Moyne and at St. Lawrence, where the Saints made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, and he was twice named the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year.

From 1990-1994, Paulsen was the senior assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Cleveland State, helping the Vikings to a 22-6 record (15-1 Mid-Continent Conference) in 1992-1993.

In 1989-1990, Paulsen served as the graduate assistant coach on Steve Fisher’s staff at Michigan. Paulsen was part of a Wolverines program that went 23-8 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and he had the opportunity to coach six players who would later become NBA draft picks.

A Wisconsin native, Paulsen graduated from Williams College cum laude in 1987 with departmental honors in history and completed his master’s degree in history at Michigan. A Phi Beta Kappa scholar, he was also a member of the varsity basketball team, helping the Ephs capture the ECAC New England Division III championship during his senior year.

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