Don Meyer remembered at Lipscomb
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) As Don Meyer's coaching career progressed, he eventually realized coaching kids was more important than coaching basketball.
He did an outstanding job with both.
Before he left Lipscomb University in 1999 after 24 seasons he had led the Bisons to 12 seasons with 30 or more wins. In 1986, his team won the NAIA national championship.
The 1989-90 team set a national season record with 41 victories, losing only five. He left the school with a career record of 665-179. He finished his career with 923 victories, sixth in college victories.
His players also succeeded at record levels. He produced the top two scorers in the history of college basketball, three national players of the year and 22 All-Americans.
Sunday afternoon more than 1,100 friends, fans and coaches assembled at Allen Arena for a memorial celebration of life on the court that bears Meyer's name.
Meyer died at his home in Aberdeen, South Dakota, on May 18 after a long battle with cancer. He as 69.
The celebration was designed to provide an opportunity for his former players to reminisce and personally express condolences to Meyer's wife, Carmen, and their children, Jerry, Brooke and Brittney.
There were 98 of his former players, managers and student assistant coaches in the crowd. Five of the speakers asked by the family to address the crowd were former players - Ricky Bowers, Greg Glenn, Tom Kelsey, Richard Taylor and Wade Tomlinson. Greg Brown, a former student assistant coach and the current Lipscomb women's basketball coach, also talked briefly and led a prayer.
All remembered Meyer as a servant-leader who demanded the best from his players.
''At first you are an Xs and Os guy as a coach, but after a while you figure out it is about the kids that you coach ... no question,'' said Kelsey, who played from 1982-86 and is director of basketball operations at LSU. ''He recruited great character guys. And if you didn't have great character he took the time to mold it.''
In July 2009, Meyer received the ESPN's Jimmy V Perseverance Award, named for former North Carolina State coach Jimmy Valvano, who died in 1993 from cancer. Meyer also was given the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August 2010.
''He could have taken his approach in coaching and taken it to another profession and been a success because of his passion,'' said Bowers, one of the top high school football and basketball coaches in the state of Tennessee. ''But he had a passion for coaching that was unlike any coach I have ever known.
''We lost a friend and a mentor, but I think all coaches, no matter what sport they coach, have lost their greatest teacher. That was really what he was. He was a teacher and a special guy.''
Meyer closed out his career at Northern State. A memorial service was held there two weeks ago.