OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A former Division I head coach with 230 career victories in 18 collegiate seasons, Gary Stewart has been named as the new head men’s basketball coach at Stevenson, Director of Athletics Brett Adams announced on Tuesday. He replaces Adams who resigned in March after 17 seasons as the school’s first head coach to focus on his role as AD.
“Gary Stewart, at many different levels, is highly recognizable in the basketball community,” said Adams. “Beyond that, Gary Stewart played Division III basketball and was a very successful coach at the Division III level, including an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance. He has a reputation of bringing programs from worst to first.”
Stewart owns the unique distinction of having served as a head coach at each NCAA level. He brings 25 years as a highly-respected college coach to Stevenson, including 11 at Division I, six at Division II and eight at Division III. In 18 seasons as a college head coach, he has totaled four conference championships and six postseason appearances.
“Gary has some Division I experience, but I think his heart and soul is Division III,” commented Adams. “I am very excited about having him come on board. It was humbling to see so many top caliber candidates from over 200 qualified applicants that we had for this position. I think this will be a great triumph for Stevenson and Division III basketball.”
Most recently, Stewart was the head coach at the UC-Davis from 2003-11 where he led the program’s four-year reclassification from Division II to Division I, culminating in the Aggies’ first year as an official member of the Big West Conference during the 2007-08 season.
“I am truly honored and extremely humbled to join Stevenson as the new head men’s basketball coach,” said Stewart. “Stevenson is growing at an unprecedented pace. I am enthusiastically looking forward to help build on the tremendous values, history and tradition of this extraordinary university.”
In eight seasons at UC Davis, Stewart mentored five Big West all-conference selections and three Freshman of the Year recipients. He posted his 200th career victory with an 85-74 win against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 15, 2009 before becoming one of 14 charter appointment to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Ethics Coalition in May 2009.
Stewart made an immediate impact on the Aggie program in 2003-04. Taking over a team that finished three games under .500 the previous season, he guided UC Davis to an 18-9 record and a 15-7 mark in the powerhouse California Collegiate Athletic Association in Division II. In its third year of Division I reclassification, he led the Aggies to a 64-58 upset over Stanford at The Pavilion on Dec. 4, 2005.
Under Stewart, UC Davis won more games than any other four-year transition program, averaging double-figure wins from 2003-04 through the final transition year in 2006-07. In the summer of 2006, he was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors, joining such coaches as Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tubby Smith (Minnesota), Bill Self (Kansas), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Mike Brey (Notre Dame) and Bo Ryan (Wisconsin).
“There is an expectation of excellence set forth by the Stevenson administration and athletic department leadership,” added Stewart. “With a wonderful academic reputation, a passionate fan base and some of the nation’s best Division III athletic facilities, Stevenson has a great foundation in place to build a championship basketball program.”
Stewart is no stranger to Division III, earning four All-SCIAC selections at La Verne and serving as team captain for three years from 1980-84 before returning as the Leopards’ head coach from 1987-95 where he guided his alma mater from last place to first place in a matter of three years. He ranks second in school history with 116 victories which includes a 20-8 record and NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance following the 1992-93 season.
“I am committed to the mission of Division III athletics,” said Stewart. “Immersed in strong fundamentals with a team approach, I will run a goal oriented program predicated on the ‘always compete’ philosophy. While vigorously pursuing athletic success, academic achievement will always be the guiding force of the basketball program. As I continue to formulate and implement a blueprint for the upcoming season, I will put into action the strategic plan for relentless recruiting of accomplished student-athletes needed to build and sustain a championship program.”
Stewart is the only coach in La Verne history to lead his team to a SCIAC title, a feat he accomplished three times, or a berth in the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship. In 2002, he was honored as a Distinguished Graduate during the university’s 75th Diamond Jubilee festivities while he was later inducted into the La Verne Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Stewart received his bachelor’s of science degree in physical education from La Verne in 1984 and captured the SCIAC’s Ted Ducey Award, bestowed upon one senior who best exemplifies outstanding achievement in academics, athletics, leadership and sportsmanship. In addition, he was selected as the recipient of the Anthony P. Scafani Sportsman of the Year Award.
Stewart, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Long Beach State for two seasons from 1984-86, completed his master’s of arts degree in education at La Verne in 1995.
After eight seasons with the Leopards, Stewart spent two as the head coach at Division II Cal State East Bay from 1995-97. The program that had gone 22-79 in the four seasons prior to his arrival, but in just two years, Stewart led the Pioneers to a share of the NCAC title with UC-Davis. For his efforts, he was named the 1997 NCAC Co-Coach of the Year and was selected by the Oakland Tribune as the Bay Area Men’s College Coach of the Year for all NCAA divisions.
Following UC Santa Barbara, Stewart spent one season as an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara under Jerry Pimm during the 1997-98 season and was honored by Dunk Magazine as one of the top assistant coaches in the country.
Stewart was an assistant coach at Washington State from 1999-2002 and was an assistant coach to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo for the 2002 NABC All-Star Game. He assisted former Maryland head coach Gary Williams in 2003 and Hall of Famers Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) in 2004 and Jim Calhoun (Connecticut) in 2005. He also worked with Bruce Weber (Illinois) in 2006 and John Brady (LSU) in 2007.
Prior to UC Davis, Stewart served as the director of basketball services at UCLA under Steve Lavin during the 2002-03 season.
In addition to coaching, Stewart has 16 years of experience as a university lecturer and assistant professor while serving two years as an assistant and associate athletic director at Cal State East Bay. He is a member of the NABC and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
Stewart’s service also includes the NABC Ethics Committee and Assistant Coaches Board of Directors and NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Regional Advisory Committee.
An active participant in community service, Stewart traveled to the Middle East as part of the United Service Organization’s (USO) “Operation Hoop Talk.” In 2009, after his first visit to Iraq and Kuwait, he was one of four coaches, including Georgetown’s John Thompson III, to serve as a court coach at the USA Basketball U18 Team Trials in Washington, D.C., featuring former Connecticut star Kemba Walker.
Stewart’s other highlights include the United Way, ALS Foundation, Free Throws For Heroes program for 9/11 relief, which was adopted by the NABC, Special Olympics and raising relief funds for the American Red Cross in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Stewart has twice been honored with the UC-Davis Community Service Award and, in 2008, the Diversity and Principles of Community Achievement Recognition Award. In four seasons in the Big West Conference under Stewart, the Aggie men’s basketball team received three consecutive Big West Conference Team Sportsmanship Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011.