Northern State coach, with 900-plus wins, to retire
ABERDEEN, S.D. – One of the winningest men’s basketball coaches in history is retiring.
Northern State coach Don Meyer said Monday he no longer has the physical or mental energy to run the basketball program at its “highest possible level.” He will retire at the end of the season.
The 65-year-old Meyer in September 2008 was critically injured in a car accident that later resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee. Doctors then discovered he had an inoperable form of cancer.
“It is time for someone with more energy and time available to deal with the unique challenges of a basketball program like Northern State,” Meyer said.
Meyer has continued to coach despite his health problems, with 922 wins and 323 losses headed into the final week of this season. In January 2009, he broke Bob Knight’s NCAA record of 902 wins, coaching from the sidelines in a wheelchair.
Meyer’s record includes wins at NAIA schools, though he broke Knight’s record while with the NCAA Division II Wolves. Philadelphia University basketball coach Herb Magee won his 902nd game – all at NCAA schools – on Saturday. He can surpass Knight on Tuesday when the Rams play Goldey-Beacom College in Philadelphia.
Earlier this season, McKendree University coach Harry Statham notched his 1000th win at the NAIA powerhouse in Lebanon, Ill. The only other member of the 1,000-win club is Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt.
Last July, Meyer received the ESPN Jimmy V. Perseverance Award. In April, he is to receive the Legends of the Hardwood Award at the NCAA Final Four. The court at Northern State is named in his honor.
“Don is a legendary coach but, more importantly, a legendary person,” Northern State president James Smith said. “His passion for developing young men into extremely successful adults is and always has been his true key to success. I look forward to working more closely with him but am saddened by the thought of not seeing him walking the floor that so proudly carries his name.”
Smith said Meyer will remain on staff at Northern State helping promote the northern South Dakota school. A national search for a new head men’s basketball coach is to begin immediately.
Meyer, a native of Wayne, Neb., coached at Hamline University and Lipscomb University before taking the Northern State job in 1999. Before becoming a head coach he was an assistant at Western State and at Utah.
Meyer plans to address the crowd from center court following Northern State’s final regular season game on Saturday night against Southwest Minnesota State.
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