By Paul Lonardo
Jared Grasso was recently named the new head coach of the Bryant University men’s basketball team, replacing Tim O’Shea, who had been at the helm since 2018. Grasso, 37, becomes the eighth head coach in Bryant program history, and the second at the Division I level. He arrives with sixteen years of experience coaching Division I basketball.
Grasso says he knows the area well and has friends here. Also, having been involved in the Atlantic 10 Conference, he has played against URI and was familiar with the NEC, so he knew all about the basketball program at Bryant. “Seeing some of the success that the other athletic programs have had here is what makes it such an exciting opportunity for me,” Grasso says.
Grasso has a deep, abiding passion for the game of basketball, and he will be bringing his energy, enthusiasm and experience to build the Bryant basketball program into a tradition of winning and competing at the NCAA level.
Grasso has spent the last eight seasons working as the assistant coach at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where he helped the Gaels advance to the MAAC Championship Final seven times, including a conference-record six straight appearances, and winning the MAAC Tournament Championship in each of the last three seasons.
He is known for his high-level recruiting everywhere he’s coached, and for a characteristic ability to develop strong relationships with each student-athlete, the result of which makes his players the best they can be both on the court and in the classroom.
Right now, Grasso says he is focused on building relationships with the players he inherited, taking the time to get to know them, but also having them get to know him and what makes him tick, so that they understand the values that he wants to build the program around.
“Recruiting is the life-blood of any program,” Grasso says. “So, myself and my staff, as we put it together, will be hitting the road looking to upgrade our talent level to put ourselves into position to compete for championships here.”
As Iona’s recruiting coordinator, Grasso has been instrumental in the recruiting and coaching of a group that includes eleven MAAC first-team all-conference selections, three MAAC Player of the Year honorees, and one MAAC Rookie of the Year. Iona has seen twenty-two players play professionally over the last seven seasons between the NBA, NBA G-League and international opportunities. The Gaels are the only NCAA Division I program to send a player to the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for five straight seasons.
Grasso is also currently working on putting together his coaching staff, bringing in people who he knows and trusts and who share the same vision he does—building a perennial power in the NEC.
Before coaching Iona, Grasso spent four seasons on the staff at Fordham, including a stint as interim head coach. Prior to that, he spent the 2005-2006 year as assistant coach at his alma mater, Quinnipiac, where as a player he enjoyed a stellar four-year career as a starting guard and was team captain his junior and senior years. Grasso currently ranks 22nd on the Bobcats’ all-time scoring list with 1,134 career points. He is fifth on the all-time list in assists with 404 and ranks fourth all-time in three-point field goals with 216. He graduated from Quinnipiac with a degree in Mass Communications in May 2002 and was elected to the Quinnipiac Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
An exceptional player himself, Grasso had aspirations to continue playing basketball after college. “My senior year, my plan was to play professionally overseas,” he says. “I was in the process of getting dual citizenship in Italy when I hurt my back. I ended up getting back surgery, and once that happened I decided to go the coaching route as soon as I could.”
Grasso’s father was a coach, so he had that in his blood. He ended up getting a graduate assistant spot with Hofstra University, where he began his coaching career in 2002, before joining the staff at Hartford the following year, where he stayed until 2005.
It’s been quite a journey for Grasso, who is a native of Syosset, New York and a graduate of St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, where he earned honorable mention All-American honors as a senior by averaging 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists per game. He is a husband and a father. He and his wife, Andrea, have an infant son, and they will be welcoming a new baby into the family in September, just in time for the start of the basketball season. He currently resides on Long Island, and he will be going back and forth from here to New York over the summer. Once the new baby arrives, the plan is for his family to join him here in October and have the family move to New England completely.
Coach Grasso will be very busy over the next six months leading up to the season, and we wish him, his family and the Bulldogs a lot of success this year and in the future.