Friar Basketball

Kevin Kurbec Through the Years


It’s 1998 and Tim Welsh enters his first year as men’s basketball coach at Providence College. Pete Gillen is now gone, fleeing for greener pastures at the University of Virginia just one season removed from the Elite 8. Now turning to Welsh, PC fans quickly look for him to turnaround a Friars squad that finished 13-16 a year prior. Bringing with him, a 70-22 record and a pair of MAAC Coach of the Year Awards at Iona, expectations for Welsh are high from the get-go. 

Shortly after Tim Welsh’s hiring, Smithfield, RI native and current PC Associate Director of Player Development and Video Operations, Kevin Kurbec, was preparing for his freshman year at Providence College. Growing up in Rhode Island, Kurbec was already well aware of PC’s rich basketball history, having owned season tickets with his family for several years prior to enrolling at Providence. Unimaginable at the time, but 16 years later, Kurbec can reflect on his journey from student manager to his current role under Ed Cooley and the many positive changes that Providence College has endured over that time.kurbec portrait

“It was accidental to be honest with you,” Kurbec shared, when looking back on how he landed a team manager position in the summer of 1998. “I had known Mike Hart, the head coach over at St. Andrews, for a long long time, probably since I was 5 or 6 years old. I bumped into him a couple weeks before I started my freshman year at Providence and he mentioned that he worked some camps that summer and that he got to know the new coaching staff pretty well. He told me that if I was interested in becoming a student manager, he would put in a call for me.” One thing lead to the next for Kurbec and soon thereafter he would quickly get a taste of what coaching at the Big East level was like.

At the time of Kurbec joining the men’s basketball staff, Providence College was light years away from where it stands today. Stricken by little to no funding, support for the men’s basketball program was few and far between. Nearly all of the luxuries that Ed Cooley and the current PC staff enjoy today were not around and Kurbec knows better than anyone how far the school has come. “The Dunk’ was an eyesore. It was a building that you almost didn’t want to bring recruits to,” said Kurbec when describing what the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was like prior to its renovation in 2008. “You had the ugly red and blue seats, it was dark in there and it was not something that you were proud of.”

It wasn’t only the Dunk’ that presented problems when bringing in prospective student-athletes to visit Providence College. When competing with any of the other Division I schools for top high school talent, PC did not have what it took, facilities-wise, to make the school an easy sell. The on-campus office and locker rooms where nothing to write home about, Alumni Hall had no air conditioning and the team’s weight room was anything but a Division I caliber facility.

“Our gym was behind the kitchen in Slavin Center. It was dark and dingy with low ceilings. It wasn’t pretty,” said Kurbec. Showing off Providence College, at that time, was almost an oxymoron. Given that many schools had facilities that provoked a wow factor, Welsh’s staff was forced to bring recruits through the basement near the loading dock to try and sell a gym that could barely house a rack of free weights and few machines.

On top of all of that, academic and financial support for the men’s basketball team was simply not where it should have been. Tim Welsh and his staff had their work cut out for them.

In 2002, when Bob Driscoll was hired as Athletic Director, the athletic department struggled to raise just $50,000, a mere 1% of what the school raised in 2013. Much to the credit of Senior Associate Athletic Director, Steve Napolillo, his hard work and dedication towards raising athletic funding over the years has truly helped propel Providence College into a legitimate high-level destination for top-tier recruits.

Unfortunately for Welsh, just as the city of Providence neared the completion of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center renovation, he was let go after his 10th season as head coach of the Friars. Welsh also had just one season working with the state of the art Concannon Fitness Center. With the departure of Welsh, Kurbec was forced to find work elsewhere.

On August 8th, 2008 Kurbec was hired as an Assistant Coach just down the road at Bryant University. With Welsh and his staff gone, Keno Davis stepped in and the rejuvenation of Providence College continued, facilities wise anyway. Thanks to a $400,000 gift from 1965 PC graduate Joe Calabria, the Joe Calabria Hallway of Legends project was completed. Consisting of nine exhibit areas and seven display cases, the hallway featured players and teams from each era of the Providence College basketball program. The hallway’s floor flaunts a replica of the Friars’ Dave Gavitt Court at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and the project also included a complete renovation of the coaching staff’s offices, the film room and the team’s locker room.

Well known by now, the Keno Davis era was short lived and Ed Cooley was hired in the spring of 2011 as the 15th head coach in Providence College history.

Then three years removed from his time at PC, Kurbec rejoined the coaching staff under Cooley. While Kurbec appreciated his three seasons at Bryant, returning to Providence College was a no brainer for both him and his family. The timing and opportunity was perfect for him. No longer would he need to be on the road recruiting and he could remain close to home to take care of his wife and three young children.

A lot like the other coaches that Cooley brought with him to Providence, Kurbec was exactly what he needed to help change the culture at PC. Despite the excellent resumes for each member of his staff, what Cooley lacked was someone who knew Providence College inside and out – and Kurbec undoubtedly did.

As the Director of Player Development and Video Operations, Kurbec has had his hands in a lot of different areas within the basketball program. Everything from late nights cutting up film for next day’s practice to ensuring the academic success of each student-athlete, falls under his umbrella of responsibilities. In addition, he is also charged with organizing and running the many basketball camps that the team holds during the summer months.

It’s not often that you can find somebody who has been a part of something for so long but luckily for PC, they have Kevin Kurbec. With the upcoming season, he enters his 14th year as part of the men’s basketball program. He has worked with so many different players over the years, many of which he still remains in contact with today. When asked what it means to him, to be a part of PC athletics for so many years, Kurbec describes it as,”special.” Knowing how difficult it was to succeed in his first time at PC, only makes him appreciate where the school is today that much more. Citing last season as the best thing he has ever been a part of since working at Providence, he understands what it took to get there.



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