Andy started his career in the college game in 2003 as a UD freshman. He tried to walk onto the Flyers that fall, along with 40-50 other students. First-year coach Brian Gregory didn’t select him as a walk-on but saw something in him and invited him to become a student manager.
It took only one practice watching the passion of Gregory and his staff, including assistant coach Billy Schmidt, to convince Farrell he wanted to get into coaching.
“On the drive back from the arena, I was in the car with Billy and said, ‘I want to do this. How do I do it?’” Farrell said. “Billy used to be a manager as well. He said, ‘This is what you want to do. You better come to every practice. You better learn for the next four years. Be in the office all the time, doing work all the time. Learn, learn, learn. Be a sponge. Prove yourself so we can put our name behind you when we recommend you for a position.’”
That’s what Farrell did. Then when Andy was a senior in 2006-07, Matt joined Gregory’s staff as a graduate assistant. Matt had graduated from UD that spring.
The most passionate college basketball fans in America helped capture the NCAA’s First Four tournament games through 2018, said Matt Farrell, a member of the Local Organization Committee overseeing local First Four events. THOMAS GNAU / STAFF
Credit: Thomas Gnau
Credit: Thomas Gnau
The next season, Matt became director of basketball operations, opening a graduate assistant spot. Andy had a chance to take that job. Instead, he landed on Grant’s staff at Virginia Commonwealth as a grad assistant. Rather than hiring Andy, Gregory hired Eric, who would move up to assistant director of basketball operations in 2011 under Archie Miller.
As Andy built his career elsewhere, moving from VCU to former UD coach Oliver Purnell’s staff with Clemson to DePaul, and then Longwood University and Southwest Mississippi Community College, he watched his brothers experience some of the greatest moments in recent UD history. Matt was on the bench for the NIT championship in 2010. Eric watched the Elite Eight run in 2014 from the same vantage point.
Eric Farrell, Dayton's assistant director of basketball operations, celebrates after a victory against Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
Credit: David Jablonski
Credit: David Jablonski
Andy traveled to New York City and Buffalo and Memphis to experience those moments in person.
“It was a lot of fun just being able to watch them be heavily involved in a program that was so near and dear to me,” Andy said.
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Now it’s Andy’s turn. Among his duties will be running the team camps at UD this summer and preparing scouting reports during the season for Grant and the rest of the staff.
Farrell spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Southwest Mississippi. He kept in touch with Grant through the years and visited him at an Oklahoma City Thunder game last December.
“Every job that I’ve pursued, I’ve called him,” Farrell said. “Him and I have checked out the pros and cons of every job I’ve ever taken. He’s really helped me guide me with all that stuff. So when news came out that Archie was leaving for Indiana, I texted coach Grant and just mentioned, ‘I would love to see you back in Dayton.’”
In their first conversations after Grant got the job, Grant gauged Farrell’s interest in returning to Dayton. Farrell told him he would absolutely be interested.
“Obviously, I have a very special place in my heart for Dayton basketball,” Farrell said, “and I have a very special place in heart for coach Grant as well.”
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Farrell worked with Grant for only one season at VCU before taking a job at Clemson as a video coordinator. Even that short amount of time inspired loyalty from Grant. At the time Farrell was applying for the Clemson job, Grant was in Argentina helping coach the Team USA Under-18 team.
“Coach Grant called me from Argentina,” Farrell said, “and says, ‘Did you apply yet? What are they saying?’” Farrell said. “I remember looking at my watch and saying, ‘Coach, you guys are playing in two hours.’ He said, ‘Who do I need to call? Give me coach Purnell’s phone number. I will call him right now. What do we have to do to make sure you get this job?’”
Farrell couldn’t believe Grant would make that kind of effort when he was so busy in another country.
“That made such an impression on me,” Farrell said. “This guy is a loyal person. I’ve always been indebted to him because of that.”