Beaury back as men’s basketball head coach at Saint Rose

Brian Beaury at Rensselaer High School Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

Brian Beaury at Rensselaer High School Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

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Brian Beaury never intended to leave The College of Saint Rose and its men’s basketball program the way he did in October 2018.

In fact, he never intended to leave at all.

“I always thought I’d leave the college horizontally,” Beaury joked.

Beaury’s retirement, shortly before the start of the 2018-19 season, wasn’t by choice. It was forced, he said, by the medical issues and constant pain that had caused him to sit out two of his final five seasons with the Golden Knights.

“I didn’t leave because I wanted to leave,” Beaury said. “I left because I couldn’t do the work anymore.”

There’d been unfinished business ever since, and Beaury didn’t think he’d ever be able to come back and finish the job he’d started more than three decades earlier.

Then came Tuesday.

That’s when Beaury, who won more than 600 games in 32 seasons leading the Golden Knights, was named the program’s head coach once again. He replaces his own successor, Mike Perno, who has stepped down after leading Saint Rose for the last five seasons.

Tuesday’s announcement comes just six weeks after the announcement of Beaury’s return to the Albany college as an associate head coach under Perno.

“It was Mike’s decision that he wanted to go in a different direction,” Saint Rose athletic director Lori Anctil said. “We wanted to support him, and knew that having the opportunity to work with Brian was going to benefit Mike, but I think with coach Beaury’s history with the program and his passion to be involved quite heavily, I think Mike saw it as an opportunity where he also felt good that he could turn the reins back over to coach Beaury and pursue other opportunities, which I know he has.”

“I was surprised when he decided to step down,” Beaury said. “I was just working in the capacity of filling and building a roster, and Lori offered me this opportunity. I took some time to give it some serious thought to make sure I was ready to do it, because I wouldn’t do it if I couldn’t give it 100%.”

Perno, a 2000 graduate of Saint Rose, did not respond to a message seeking comment for this story. 

In a press release announcing the coaching change, he said, “From the time Coach Beaury recruited me to Saint Rose, he has always been there for me and my family. I was humbled by the faith he had in me to take over the program when he stepped away in 2018, and I’m honored to be able to turn the reins back over to him. As a graduate of the College and friend to many on campus, Saint Rose will always hold a special place in my heart.I’m excited for the future of the program and know Coach Beaury will continue to bring success.”

In his five years as head coach, Perno’s Saint Rose teams went 43-74, including a 9-20 mark in 2022-23. Since the end of the season, several top players — including leading scorer and Schalmont High graduate Shane O’Dell — have departed the program via the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Success was constant for the Golden Knights during Beaury’s first tenure. He compiled a 643-226 career record as head coach, won eight conference titles and led Saint Rose to the postseason in 31 of his 32 seasons, including a trip to the NCAA Division II national semifinals in 1998.

In 2016, he became the ninth Division II men’s basketball coach to reach the 600-win mark for his career.

It wasn’t long after that Beaury’s pain became too much to manage, and retirement became his only option. Several months later, he was diagnosed with a chronic genetic disorder, Ankylosing spondylitis — a condition described by the Mayo Clinc as “an inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the vertebrae in your spine to fuse.”

He’s received treatment ever since to slow down the disease.

“There’s no cure for it, but at the same time, I feel a lot different than I did in 2018 when I left,” Beaury said. “I’ve been working 14-hour days for the last month-and-a-half, and I feel great. I wouldn’t do it unless I could do it 100%, and I’ve got the support of the people on my medical team. Most importantly, I’ve got the support from my family and Lori.”

Beaury’s work since he rejoined the staff in late March was to help rebuild Saint Rose’s depleted roster. In that time, he said, the program’s already signed nine new players for the 2023-24 season, including five Division I transfers.

“We’re building, we think, a great roster of good people that are good players and are good students,” he said. “Our goal and our vision is to be in the NCAA tournament and do our best to try to win.”

Anctil said that Beaury was one of the first people she connected with after taking over the Saint Rose athletic department in August 2019.

“I didn’t anticipate we’d be in this position,” she said. “I didn’t anticipate, really, that Brian would entertain the idea of coming back and being in charge. But, we share so much of the same vision abnd an excitement for this program to create an opportunity to work with each other side-by-side and bring championships back to The College of Saint Rose for men’s basketball.” 

As he builds his staff, Beaury said he’ll retain assistant coach Mike Murray — “He’s like two assistants, not just one,” Beaury said — who assisted Perno for the last four seasons. Beaury also said two former Saint Rose players of his, whom he declined to name as their contracts have not yet been finalized, are slated to round out the coaching staff.

One name not to expect is Will Brown, who was an assistant under Beaury from 1995-98 before embarking on his two-decade stint as the men’s basketball head coach at UAlbany that ended following the 2020-21 season.

Beaury later returned the favor and worked under Brown as an assistant in 2022 when Brown coached the Albany Patroons, but said a reunion with the Golden Knights isn’t in the cards.

“Will Brown’s a head coach,” Beaury said. “He belongs coaching at the highest level of the game.”

Beaury will be officially reintroduced May 10 in a press conference at Saint Rose’s Daniel P. Nolan Gymnasium.

While he’s already hard at work assembling a team, Beaury admitted that for him, the season can’t come soon enough.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “I wish we were starting tomorrow.”

Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Shinder.

Categories: -Sports-, College Sports

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