INDIANAPOLIS - The sudden departure of Brad Stevens from the Butler University men’s basketball program came as a shock to many Wednesday evening.
At 5:30 p.m., Brad Stevens called a team meeting with his staff at Hinkle Fieldhouse and that is when he told them he was leaving Butler to take the job as head coach of the Boston Celtics.
Moments later, thanks to social media, the story went public.
RTV6 fans had mixed reactions on Facebook .
Many fans commented that they were sad to see him go, but very happy for Stevens and thankful for what he had done for Butler’s program.
“Congratulations to Coach Stevens but very sad for the Bulldogs!” Diana C. wrote on the RTV6 Facebook page.
Other fans were openly upset.
“Well I guess promises mean nothing, another one takes his talent elsewhere, money talks,” Beverly Shepherd said on the RTV6 Facebook page.
Later Wednesday evening, Butler University Athletic Director Barry Collier still had a stunned look on his face during a live press conference.
Collier said he learned of the news earlier in the day and he wasn’t surprised to learn that Stevens was leaving for the NBA.
“This came about today. This is a somewhat sudden thing, but in today’s world, that’s how a lot of this works.” Collier said. “In today’s world you’ve got to have a Plan B, and we’ll have to execute that.”
Collier added that Butler did all they could to keep Stevens there.
“There is always a possibility that somebody that good would go to coach at another place,” Collier said.
Reports out of Boston have said that the Celtics signed Stevens to a six-year $22 million contract.
The loss of Stevens was being felt by Butler students as the news soaked in. They said they loved the strong Butler basketball team that Stevens built.
“He’s obviously led us to two national championships and it’s definitely shown that even though Butler’s a small school that we can accomplish a lot,” one student said.
Other students were just shocked and thought it was all a joke.
"I thought he would be at Butler for the next 20 years. Just like Coach K. Coach K. has gotten all these offers everywhere else, but he decided to stay. I thought Brad Stevens would do the same," said senior Matt Krzywosz.
That consternation prompted Butler University President James Danko to distribute an email that said, in part, "Our community will need to unite in the coming days and months as we collectively accept Brad's departure."
Social media erupted at the news of the move.
“Huge congrats to Coach Stevens!!! Will be missed at Butler for sure…does this mean I can call you Rook now, Coach? Haha.” Said former Butler star @Gordon Hayward on Twitter.
“Congrats to Brad Stevens on being named head coach of the Boston Celtics. I hate to see him leave Butler but he’ll be great for the Celtics,” former Colts coach @TonyDungy tweeted.
As Collier pointed out during a press conference, Stevens can still continue to wear his Butler attire and be a Butler fan.
Butler officials said the search had already started to find Stevens' replacement. Fans agreed the coaching hire will be critical as Butler enters its inaugural season in the Big East.
A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. in Boston Friday morning to introduce Stevens and his family.
Watch RTV6 and refresh this page for updates.
Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas