As the team is undergoing its best start to conference play in program history, Theo Dean has been elevated from interim Truman women’s basketball coach to the full head coach.

Truman director of athletics Jerry Wollmering made the announcement Monday morning after he and Dean reached an agreement last Wednesday. They decided to hold off on an announcement to not take any focus away from last Thursday’s game against Missouri S&T and Saturday’s game against Maryville. Dean even played coy after Thursday’s game when asked whether any progress had been made about removing the interim tag, keeping the decision close to the vest.

But Dean said he was surprised when Wollmering asked to meet with him last week.

“I was kind of shocked, honestly,” said Dean. “We talked maybe a few weeks ago and I said I’m not trying to do things to get an elevation — I’m not walking into this office saying I want this or I want that. I’m just working. And it’s great that my hard work and the team’s hard work paid off. And at the end of the day, our work isn’t over. We still have a long season ahead and want to keep what we have going.”

Wollmering didn’t have an internal timeline for when he wanted to make a decision. But he spent winter break reflecting on where the program was under Dean for the last four months. When former coach Amy Eagan announced her departure just as school began last August, Wollmering said he was happy with how Dean helped eased that rocky transition.

“Ever since August 19th and the announcement that we were in an interim situation, I’ve been proud of really the whole team, how they’ve conducted themselves, went about their business,” Wollmering said. “It would have been very easy to, with me, complain, but they didn’t do that — you know with Theo working without a full-time assistant. Just over the break, kind of adding all that up, and the more and more I watch practice and watch games, I really liked what I saw. After talking with President (Susan) Thomas, I decided we’re going to do it now and move forward.”

Back in August, Eagan said she wouldn’t have made her decision to join Drury unless she thought Dean could handle being the head coach. She offered her congratulations on Twitter saying, “Bout. Freakin. Time.”

And the current Bulldogs were happy when Wollmering let them know of his decision on Sunday. He met with them after their weightlifting session and, at first, gave them a scare.

“I went ahead and said, ‘I want to give you guys a heads up, coach Dean’s no longer our interim head women’s basketball coach.’ Then I kind of paused,” Wollmering said. “They were looking at me and then I said, ‘Because we’re going to shorten his title up.’ And then they all cheered.”

The Bulldogs are out to a 9-3 start with Dean, including a program-best 5-0 to start the GLVC season. Dean has been appreciative of the help given by graduate assistants Brie Daniels, who played at Truman from 2008-2012, and Dawson Wood. He will hire a full-time assistant but won’t start that process until this season is over.

Dean said, for the most part, this announcement doesn’t change how he operates because he has acted as the full-time head coach since August.

“I didn’t do anything with caution,” Dean said. “I’ve talked with other coaches and they said, ‘Be careful with recruiting because you never know.’  I said no, I’m going to recruit as if I’m going to be here. I’m not going to not recruit because I don’t know if I’m going to have a job, and I’m not going to recruit bad players. I’m going to recruit the kids I want, I’m going to treat my current players the right way because I want to continue to coach them, I’m going to try to win games because I’m competitive, and I’m going to prepare because I want to win games. Everybody does it differently, but I thought that was the right way for me to go about things. And it has worked out.”