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Jason Belzer

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Top 25 Non-Division I Head Coaches

Following on the heels of the success of my Top 25 “Mid-Major” and “High-Major” assistants lists over the last two summers, of which after publication almost half the coaches listed went on to take Division I head coaching job, I have decided to provide a similar list for college basketball’s “Non-Division I” Head Coaches.

Assessing the quality of a team is never easy. Evaluating the quality of a coach is even harder. There are so many factors that go into determining what exactly makes a good coach: win-loss record, work ethic, graduation rates, attention to detail, recruiting skills, overall basketball knowledge, the list goes on and on. What is critical to remember is that even though head coaches are the generals of their respective programs, they are not irreplaceable. As this business show’s us every spring, it takes more than just winning for a coach to keep his paycheck.

In compiling this list, several factors were weighed, one of the more significant of which was a coach’s longevity with their programs. Those that have served their time and paid their dues with unquestionable loyalty to their institutions have shown one of the most important qualities a coach can have. Other factors that went into the rankings include: overall program success, graduation rates, D-I coaching experience, recruiting, reputation amongst peers, and future potential. Coaches on this list are all still relatively in the prime of their careers and still have an opportunity to move up to a higher level of the game. That is why you will not find legendary coaches like Gordon Gibbons (Clayton State), Herb Magee (Philadelphia University) and Glenn Robinson (Franklin & Marshall) on this list.

All of these coaches listed have proven their ability to build a first class program that succeeds in the classroom and on the court. Athletic Directors at Division I institutions should take note of these names the next time they are looking to fill a vacancy for their own programs. Most important is the realization that this list was created not to classify the haves from the have-nots, but to honor those head coaches who have done great work throughout their careers and bring something truly special to their programs and universities as a whole.


Rick Cooper (West Texas A&M University) - Cooper has never had a losing season at West Texas A&M, is 350-172 (.670) during his time there and is one of 13 active DII coaches with 500 wins in his career. He is a six time Lone Star Conference (LSC) Coach of the Year, and has also won two South Central Region Coach of the Year awards. He has made nine NCAA Division II Tournaments including an Elite Eight appearance.

Bobby Champagne (North Alabama) – Has led the program to two NCAA tournament appearances, including a NCAA Division II South Regional Championship in 2007-08. NABC South Region Coach of the Year in 2008. Has been affiliated with 13 postseason tournament teams (nine NCAA, two NIT) during his 24-year collegiate coaching career, mostly on the D-I level.

Jim Crutchfield (West Liberty University) - His team was ranked number one throughout much of the 2010-2011 season. Finished 22-0 in conference for 2010-11, had a 33 game winning streak, and made the Elite Eight. His teams have led the nation in scoring for five of the past six years, and he is a three time WVIAC Men’s Coach of the Year. In first year, he inherited a team that went 4-23 in previous year and coached them to 21-10 record, notching the biggest turnaround in the nation that year.

Scott Davenport (Bellarmine) - Led Bellarmine to 2011 national championship. Has set the Bellarmine record for most wins in a season and has the highest winning percentage of any coach in school history. Won the 2010 Great Lakes Valley Conference championship for the first time in school history and also recorded the program’s first back-to-back 20 win campaigns in 2008-09 through 2010-11.

Terry Evans (Central Oklahoma) - Led UCO to seven NCAA appearances in nine seasons including a trip to the Elite Eight and another one to the Sweet Sixteen. Lone Star Conference North Division Coach of the Year five times, won six division crowns, and two overall league titles.

Bob Hofman (Fort Lewis College) - The winningest coach in school history with a 261-143 record (.646). His teams have won three regular season crowns, three postseason tournament titles, and six RMAC division titles and qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs six times. His overall record at FLC stands at 197-96 (.672) and the Skyhawks have finished no lower than second in the RMAC West since the 2001-02 season.

Greg Kamansky (Cal Poly Pomona) - Led Cal Poly Pomona to DII national title in 2010, 2009 Final 4, as well as Elite Eight appearances in 2003 and 2005. Three-time California Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) Coach of the Year as well as winning the NABC Division II Coach of the Year award in 2010. Kamansky lead also led the Broncos to three CCAA regular season titles. Before his arrival, Pomona had only been to the postseason three teams in the team’s 52 year history.

Jay Lawson (Bentley College) – Lawson has had winning seasons at Bentley in 18 of 19 seasons as head coach. Won five straight Northeastern-10 conference championships from 2005-2009. He has five Sweet Sixteen appearances since 2005 and three Elite Eight appearances since 2007. His 2007-08 Bentley team broke the Division II record for most consecutive wins ending the season with 54 straight dating to the season before. He won both the NABC Regional and Northeastern-10 coach of the year award five times each.

Mike Leaf (Winona State) - Winona won the DII national championship in 2006 and 2008, and was national runner up in 2007. Set DII record for consecutive wins with 57 during 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, and another record with 38 wins in a single season in 2007-08. Players have 100 percent graduation rate in his 11 years as head coach. Won five consecutive conference championships from 2005-2009.

Dip Metress (Augusta State) - Led Augusta State to the national championship game in 2008. His teams made three straight Elite Eight appearances from 2007-10. Augusta State is an astonishing 67-4 (.943) at home and 138-26 (.841) overall in the last 5 seasons -both bests amongst NCAA programs of all levels during that span. Lead ASU to #1 ranking two seasons in a row (2009-10, 2010-11). At 65 weeks, team owns the nation's longest active streak of consecutive weeks ranked and fifth-longest streak in NCAA Division II history.

Lonn Reisman (Tarleton State University) - Reisman has been responsible for one of the most impressive basketball turnarounds in Division II. When he took over at TSU in 1988 the program had went 3-25 the previous year and had one winning season in the last 25 years. He has since turned TSU into a DII power. He has led Tarleton to a 219-67 record over the last nine seasons the team has hosted the NCAA South Central Regional Championship three times since 2000 and has made an Elite Eight and Final Four.

Josh Schertz (Lincoln Memorial University) – One of the younger head coaches in the country, Schertz inherited a program at Lincoln Memorial that won seven games the season before he got there and helped them double their victory total the following season. He led the school to its first ever 20 win season in 2009-10, its first ever regional ranking, and first ever conference tournament win in his second season. Lincoln Memorial finished 27-3 this past season, and ranked 10th in the final NABC/Division II rankings.

Ken Wagner (BYU-Hawaii) – Wagner is the winningest coach in BYU Hawaii history with a 414-189 (.687) record at the school. Also serves as the school’s athletic director and helped lead the program from NAIA to Division II. Since becoming a Division II member, Wagner has made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances including National Runner Up in 2011, and three Sweet Sixteen appearances from 2007-10.


Mark Edwards (Washington University in St Louis) - Led Washington to back to back Division 3 titles in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 was named NABC and Molten/DIII News Coach of the Year. Has led the team to 27 consecutive winning seasons, the most in school history and has 542-251 record in his tenure (.683). Has won UAA Coach of the Year eight times, and the program has the best record in UAA play since the League was created in 1987-88.

Chris Harney (St Mary’s Maryland) – Before Harney’s arrival at St Mary’s, the program struggled to average 12 wins per season throughout its history. Harney helped bring that average up to 21 wins over the last 5 seasons. He led the program to Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2008 and 2010 and an Elite Eight appearance this past season. Haney has lead the Seahawks to three regular season championships and three conference tournament championships in his tenure, as well as being named the NABC Mid-Atlantic District Coach of the Year in 2010.

David Hixon (Amherst College) – Led Amherst to the National Championship in 2007 and National Runner-Ups in 2008. He is the ninth winningest coach in NCAA Division III history. He’s Led Amherst to a 612-243 record since taking over in 1977 along with 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, 4 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) titles, and 13 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) appearances. Was named NABC Coach of the year in 2007.

Bob Semling (Wisconsin- Stevens Point) – Semling is 119-29 in his first five season at Stevens Point. He led the team to a national title in 2010, and has won three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) regular season titles and three tournament titles. He was the 2010 NABC and coach of the year. UW-SP has been in the top 10 of the poll 36 straight times and in the top 25 for 62 straight times.

Bob Walsh (Rhode Island College) – Walsh has lead RIC to a 135-43 (.758) record over the last six years at RIC, including an incredible 81-18 (.819) conference and 23-8 (.741) postseason record. During that time, the Anchormen have won four Little East Conference regular season championships and LEC tournament championships. They have made five NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the 2010 and 2011 Sweet 16 and 2008 Elite 8.

Mike Maker (Williams College) – In only three years as head coach at Williams, Maker has taken the Ephs to two straight Final Fours. His record is an astounding 76-14 (.844) in those three seasons. He won numerous coaching awards in 2010 including Northeast Region Coach of the Year, NESCAC Coach of the Year, and Basketball Times co-National Coach of the Year.


Ken Ammann (Concordia University) – Ammann took over a program that had only eight winning seasons in 20 years before his arrival. In eight of his nine seasons, Concordia has won 20 or more games and has averaged 28 wins per season. Concordia won the national championship in 2003 when he was named NAIA Coach of the Year and was national runner-up in 2004 and 2007. The program won its first ever Golden State Athletic Conference title in 2006-07.

Bob Bolen (Mountain State University) – Bolen took over at Mountain State in 1993, assigned to bring the basketball program there back after it had been terminated in 1977. He won the NAIA National Championship in 2004 and has been runner up in 2003, 2008, and 2011. Over the last ten seasons he has a record of 308-42 (.880), the best of any college coach in the country. He was 2004 NAIA Coach of the Year and 2010 NABC Coach of the Year.

Al Bruehl (Robert Morris University- Chicago) – In 14 seasons at Robert Morris, Bruehl has led the team to six NAIA Final Fours including as National Runner-Up in 2002. His teams have won the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship 11 times and the conference tournament nine times in his tenure.

Happy Osborne (Georgetown College) – Led Georgetown to an NAIA title in 1998 and was runner up in 1996 and 2000, and has led Georgetown to the NAIA Tournament every year in his 15 year tenure. He was the fastest coach at any level to win 100 games, and also the fastest to win 400 games. He has a career record of 424-79. Six-time Mid South Conference Coach of the Year and won 9 of last 12 MSC titles.

Doug Tolin (Oklahoma Baptist University) – Won the National Championship at OBU in 2010 and was national runner-up in 2002. His teams won the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) regular season title three years in a row from 2002-2004 and he was Conference Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Named to the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Terry Waldrop (Texas Wesleyan) – Won the NAIA National Championship in 2006 and was named both Rawlings NAIA Coach of the Year as well as NABC Coach of the Year. He is the winningest coach in school history and over the last five years his 114 wins at TWU trail only Texas for most wins over that period in the entire state. His teams have won four consecutive conference championships and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010.

*Tremendous thanks to Daniel Marks for his aide in compiling this list!*


Jason Belzer is a senior writer for EMAIL JASON

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