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Mid-Major Madness Year in Review: The Case of the Grand Canyon Switcheroo

When Grand Canyon joined Division 1, they made quite the stir. But not all of it was because the school is a for-profit institution. The biggest stink might have come when the Antelopes ditched their old coach for one with a bigger name.


When Grand Canyon University announced it was joining Division 1 and the WAC, it was almost kind of a joke. The conference had been decimated by defections and roster changes, and this seemed like a desperation move to still be in existence.

Plus the school is a for-profit institution which rankled the coaches in the PAC-12, who wondered if they would soon be able to compete with a school that essentially could spend whatever it likes to improve its standing in D-1.

But the biggest weirdness of all came when the Antelopes jettisoned their head coach Russ Pennell for someone with a slightly more impressive name: that of Dan Majerle.

It wasn't that Pennell had done anything wrong, or was a particularly bad coach. He just was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Grand Canyon needed a little bigger name at the helm.

Majerle's first season is off to a rocky start. The team is 5-6, but only two of those wins have come against Division 1 opponents: Prairie View and Lamar, two teams that are not what you would consider as resume builders.

Our Parks Smith has done a good job of calling attention to some of the injustices in college basketball this past year. He was one of the first to talk about Old Dominion's Donte Hill, who apparently is playing in Kazakhstan (a story that was retweeted by MMM nemesis Jay Bilas). And he was right there with his look at this coaching change.

Here is the strange case of the Grand Canyon coaching change, once again.