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Loyola-Chicago rewards Moser with new deal through 2025-26

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By ANDREW SELIGMAN

AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO (AP) Loyola-Chicago rewarded coach Porter Moser with a new contract through the 2025-26 season for a captivating Final Four run on Wednesday.

Though financial terms were not announced, Moser figured to be in line for a raise after the Ramblers captured the nation's imagination last month.

"He is the perfect fit for Loyola and operates his program the right way, with student-athletes who achieve excellence on the court and in the classroom and are also excellent representatives of the institution," athletic director Steve Watson said in a statement. "We are fortunate to work at a university like Loyola that values and has made a commitment to athletics. It is nice to reward Porter not just for an outstanding season, but also for the job he has done during his time here."

A Chicago-area product, Moser is 121-111 in seven seasons at Loyola. He endured losing records his first three years as the program struggled through a move from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference. But the Ramblers sure have turned things around.

Loyola (32-6) set a program record for victories, won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament to reach the NCAAs for the first time since a Sweet 16 run in 1985 and became the fourth No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four. The Ramblers even turned a lovable 98-year-old nun named Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt into a celebrity along the way.

"I am a Catholic kid from Chicago who played in the Missouri Valley Conference (at Creighton)," Moser said in a statement. "This is the trifecta for me. We have invested so much time and energy in this program and I'm beyond excited to continue the journey. Watching Chicago as well as Loyola students, alumni and fans get excited for this team was exactly the vision we had when we took over the program. I will continue to challenge our fans to fill Gentile Arena as we did for the final home game to make it one of the best college basketball atmospheres in the country."

The Ramblers beat a top five team on the road for the first time when they knocked off No. 5 Florida in December. They drew their first sellout in 15 years when they packed in 4,963 for the regular-season finale after drawing crowds of about 1,100 to 1,500 earlier in the season.

They won the conference tournament to reach the NCAAs for the first time in 33 years. And they added to the madness with that march to the Final Four.

From Dante Ingram's buzzer-beating 3 to beat Miami to that friendly bounce on Clayton Custer's jumper in the closing seconds against Tennessee and Marques Townes' decisive 3 to beat Nevada in the Sweet 16, Loyola barely survived the first three NCAA games. A relatively easy win over Kansas State sent the Ramblers to the Final Four for the first time since the 1963 team won it all, before Michigan knocked them out.

But for a program that was largely an afterthought in Chicago, it was quite a run.

Loyola had struggled in a big way in the years following the 1985 Sweet 16 appearance, enduring 14 seasons in a row without a winning record at one point. The Ramblers had losing records in three of the four seasons prior to the arrival of Moser - a protege of the late Rick Majerus - in 2011.

He had been let go after four seasons from his previous head coaching job at Illinois State in 2007. Moser then spent four seasons under Majerus at Saint Louis before Loyola hired him.

Though the turnaround took time, the Ramblers are 89-50 the past three seasons. And they have a solid core of returning players with Custer leading the way. That should help make up for the losses of three key seniors in Ingram, Ben Richardson and Aundre Jackson.

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Updated April 25, 2018

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