SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Lake Superior State has signed coach Damon Whitten to a four-year contract extension, taking him through 2021-22.
Whitten is 43-90-18 in four seasons as head coach of the Lakers. The team was just eliminated from playoff contention thanks to a pair of losses last weekend to close out the regular season.
“University presidents look for qualities of character more than records when assessing coaches,” Lake Superior State President Peter Mitchell said. “Damon Whitten is a person of great personal integrity and genuine compassion for his players. He emphasizes sportsmanship, hard work, and a commitment to excel on the ice and in the classroom. His team’s GPA is consistently above 3.0 and the current players are great ambassadors in the community.
“Winning traditions in collegiate and professional sports have one thing in common, they trust and support a coach of integrity and they eventually become winners. I trust Damon and his assistant coaches; I believe in them and in the players. I have been particularly proud of the way they all have responded to adversity and finished the season with sweeps at Bemidji and Anchorage. With this new contract, I look forward to Coach Whitten building a hockey program at Lake State known for integrity, grit, and class, on and off the ice.”
For all that, Whitten has not yet been able to turn in a winning season at Lake Superior. The Michigan State alum took over for Jim Roque after the 2013-14 season; Roque had 18, 17 and 16 wins, respectively, in his last three seasons. Whitten’s high-water mark so far is 14 wins in 2015-16.