Stu Mullins, who coached the Riverton boys basketball team to its first state championship in 2017, confirmed in a phone call Monday with the Star-Tribune that earlier in the day he had accepted the head coaching position at Lander.
Mullins was the head coach at Riverton for two seasons, going a combined 38-18, including last year's 28-1 championship season.
His wife works in Lander's school district (Fremont County School District No. 1) and the two just had their second child, another boy, in May. Mullins has also lived in Lander since moving to Wyoming 7 years ago and cited the proximity to stay closer to his family as a reason he initially reached out to Lander about its coaching position.
"So the opportunity was there, and I took it," he said.
Mike Ragan announced in April he was stepping down after three seasons at Lander, during which the Tigers went 39-37.
Mullins informed the Riverton players, including outgoing seniors, on Monday and plans to meet with his new team Tuesday in Lander.
He cited last year's championship team and its returning pieces as momentum for the program to move forward.
"I think the Riverton program is in as good of shape as I've seen a program," Mullins said. "And we have really good programs, and we established some really solid youth programs, and the administration is there for a program to be successful."
The Wolverines will return five players from last year's championship team. Mullins admitted that gave him comfort in his decision.
Mullins inherits a Lander program that is on the heels of back-to-back sub-.500 seasons and failed to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2010 last season.
"Lander has always been good at basketball and a lot of sports," Mullins said. "I am, honestly, a 5-minute walk from the high school; I pass it everyday on my way to work. And they have the infrastructure to be good for a long time."
Lander has won three state championships, two since 2005, in program history. Mullins is excited about the opportunity to bring the success he oversaw in Riverton to its Fremont County rival while also hoping nothing but success for Riverton's future.
"It's exciting for me to take a look under the hood," Mullins said, "and see if we can transfer some of the stuff we were able to do in Riverton over to Lander."