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VIProfile: Coach Steve Lutz

By Emily Robertson

Steve Lutz has built his career in basketball from the ground up, and now as he takes over as Western Kentucky University’s Head Basketball Coach, he is ready to continue the legacy of excellence and lead the program to even further greatness.

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Lutz was the youngest of six children. Growing up loving basketball, he played at Texas Lutheran in college and then after graduation in 1995, he began his coaching career at Incarnate Word.

“I started at the very bottom as a graduate assistant at Incarnate Word in San Antonio,” Lutz says. “I worked in a restaurant bar to make ends meet and coached during the week. I went from graduate assistant to full time coach and then from there I made strategic moves to great places with people that do things the right way.”

After his time at Incarnate Word, Lutz worked as an assistant coach at Garden City Community College, Stephen F. Austin, six years at SMU, 10 years at Creighton, four years at Purdue and then landed the head coaching job in 2021 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before coming to WKU.

“I’ve taken a little bit from every place I’ve worked at, both the good and the bad and I’ve taken a little bit from every boss I’ve had,” Lutz says. “I’ve had the privilege to be around some great basketball minds. I’ve been around so many good people with so much success and from that, I’ve been able to formulate my own plan to create a successful program.”

Coach Lutz took over at WKU Basketball on March 18 and he hit the ground running to make sure that the team is ready to go for the start of the 2023-2024 season. Lutz retained four scholarship players from last year and has signed seven players to join the team, while anticipating signing at least one more player. Lutz wants to recruit a team that can help WKU win a conference title, a tournament title and advance to the NCAA tournament and win games. He knows that the goal is possible because the WKU Basketball program has a history of success.

“When people are deciding to change jobs and weighing options in terms of their next steps, history is the best predictor of the future,” Lutz says. “At WKU, you can see athletic success, and sustained success. I could tell they were doing things correctly here and that’s a big credit to Todd Stewart and Dr. Caboni.”

Lutz believes his role as a head coach is to build the best team possible, but also to grow and graduate the very best young men. He says his greatest accomplishment in his career has been helping young people get their degree.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” Lutz says. “It’s also a huge honor. I understand the gravity of the position and the history behind it. It comes with a huge responsibility to do things the right way. We want to make Hilltopper nation proud. We also want to have players graduate and become good citizens, husbands and fathers. It is amazing to see players come to campus with wide eyes and then four years later, I see them walk across the stage with a full life ahead of them.”

Coach Lutz cares deeply about his players, but his biggest passion is his family. He is married to his wife, Shannon, and together they have three children: Caroline, a junior at Purdue University, McKenna, a soon-to-be senior in high school and a son Jackson, going into the fifth grade.

“I really enjoy spending time with my family,” Lutz says. “I don’t have a lot of hobbies really, but I love spending time with my family and participating in whatever they are involved in,” Lutz says. “They are going to hold off a year on being here full-time since McKenna will be a senior, but they are excited about this new position and to spend lots of time getting to know the community.”

Lutz loves to meet local people and is grateful to already feel the community support.

“The most noticeable difference from places I’ve been in the past is the passion in the fan base here in the community,” Lutz says. “In past places, we could go out around town and not be noticed and that’s not the case here. Most of the time, people are wishing us well and talking to us. It’s fun to see the passion and how much people care about Western and about the basketball program. I’m excited to be here and to be the face of the program and to make the university and the community proud.”

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