Hamline News

May 18, 2014

Legendary Coach Passes Away

coach-don-meyer

Don Meyer, who registered the first 37 of his 923 college men's basketball coaching wins at Hamline University, passed away in Aberdeen, South Dakota on May 18 after a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

"We are very saddened to hear of the loss of Coach Meyer. His remarkable leadership and contributions to the game of men's basketball have left an indelible mark on the game," Hamline Athletic Director Jason Verdugo said. "Hamline is proud to have been a small part of his winning legacy and deeply honored to include his name as part of our long history of Piper athletics."

Meyer earned a spot on the Row of Honor that adorns the north side of Hutton Arena. His first head coaching job was at Hamline from 1972-75. His initial team went 5-20. The Pipers won 16 games each of the next two seasons. In his third and final season, Hamline advanced to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals.

Meyer left Hamline to coach Lipscomb, a NAIA school in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bisons made 13 appearances in the NAIA tournament during his 24 years there, winning the 1986 title.

Meyer moved to Division II Northern State for the 1999-2000 season. In a dozen years there, the Wolves finished in the top three of the Northern Sun Conference seven times, finishing in first place twice. When Meyer retired after the 2009-10 season, he had the most victories of any college men's basketball coach. He now ranks sixth on the all-time list with an overall mark of 923-324. The five coaches who are ahead of him are all still active in the sport.

He was the subject of the book How Lucky Can You Be: The story of coach Don Meyer", written by Buster Olney, now a baseball analyst at ESPN. In addition to his place at Hamline, Meyer has been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. He was named recipient of the Jimmy V award for Perseverance at the 2009 Espy Awards. In 2010, he also was a winner of the John Bunn Award, given annually by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.