Findlay's Niekamp ends 26-year reign
Niekamp finishes career with a 598-185 record
FINDLAY, Ohio -- Ron Niekamp, the all-time leader in basketball victories at The University of Findlay, announced his retirement as men’s basketball coach after 26 seasons at the helm of the Oilers. Coach Niekamp will remain at UF and serve as a full-time faculty member next fall in the department of Health and Human Performance.
In addition to teaching roles in physical education, Niekamp will help Findlay develop a certificate program in coaching as well as assist in the launch of a new business major in sports and event management.
“I am very appreciative that The University of Findlay has given me this opportunity, which enabled me to experience so many wonderful moments,” said Niekamp. “I have been a head coach for 39 years and it has been a great ride, but it's time to move on to the next phase of my life.”
Niekamp, who finishes his career with a 598-185 record, transformed Findlay’s men’s basketball program into a national power during his tenure and helped make Croy Gymnasium into one of the toughest venues for opponents to capture a victory.
“I want to personally thank coach Niekamp for his tremendous dedication and loyalty over the years,” said UF Director of Athletics, Steven Rackley. “He built what I feel is the premier Division II men’s basketball program in the country and he has always represented the school with class and dignity. Not only is he a great coach, but he is an excellent teacher and person as well. I am very proud of our program and Ron will definitely be missed.”
In 2009, Niekamp led the Oilers to a perfect 36-0 record en route to a NCAA Division II National Championship. The 36-0 season is the best mark in the history of DII men’s basketball and for his efforts, Niekamp was tabbed the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year.
He also garnered National Coach of the Year honors from the Division II Bulletin and Basketball Times publications as well.
During Niekamp’s tenure he compiled a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) record of 197-57, which includes ten GLIAC South Division regular season championships (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and five GLIAC Tournament titles (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).
Niekamp, who never had a losing season at Findlay, guided the Oilers to 20, 20-win campaigns in his career. His teams were also an unbelievable 353-46 (.885) at home and averaged 23 wins per season during his career. He concluded his career with a 22-6 record in the GLIAC Tournament and a 15-8 record in the NCAA Division II Tournament, which includes an Elite Eight berth in 2005 and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2008.
His efforts on the sideline netted him GLIAC Coach of the Year honors five times (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009) and NCAA Division II Midwest Coach of the Year honors three times (2005, 2007, 2009). He was also named the Columbus Dispatch Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year in 2005 and again in 2009.
On August 24, 2004, Niekamp was inducted into Miami University’s prestigious coaching circuit, “The Cradle of Coaches”. A 1972 graduate of Miami, Niekamp entered the “Cradle” with legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler who was also ironically one of Niekamp’s professors at Miami.
Before joining the NCAA Division II ranks full-time during the 2000-01 season, Niekamp won two District 22 championships, two Mid Ohio Conference (MOC) titles and two NAIA Division I Great Lakes Sectional titles with the Oilers. Niekamp’s teams also made an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament six times, reaching the Sweet 16 in 1996, 1997 and 1999.
“I believe a big key to our success has been the outstanding players and coaches that have been a part of our program for the past 26 years,” said Niekamp.
Niekamp’s tutelage has produced some of the best individual talent in school history. Randy Kortokrax (1986, 1987), Aaron Roth (1989), Chip Smith (1992), Tim Hamen (1996), Marc Bishop (1997, 1999), Chuck Daniels (1997), Ryan Maag (2000) and Kyle Hunt (2000) were all named NAIA All-Americans under Niekamp while Dustin Pfeifer (2006), Frank Phillips (2007), Josh Bostic (2008, 2009) and Nathan Hyde (2011) are the most recent All-Americans at the NCAA Division II level.
Pfeifer was also voted the 2006 GLIAC Player of the Year while Bostic captured National Player of the Year honors and the GLIAC Player of the Year award in 2009.
During his tenure, Niekamp coached 20, 1,000 point scorers including seven of the top ten in school history.
Before coming to UF, Niekamp enjoyed a successful run in the prep ranks, posting a 208-86 record at Parkway, Ottawa-Glandorf and Lima Senior.
In 1977, Niekamp was named the Ohio High School Class AA Coach of the Year with Ottawa-Glandorf and took the Titans to the Ohio State High School Final Four twice (1977, 1978). While at Lima Senior, Niekamp made a return trip to the Final Four in 1982.
“My goal was to have a quality program,” said Niekamp. “A program that reflected well on the institution and where players competed at a very high level. It was important for me to do it the right way. I am also thankful that I had such great support from my wife and family. The life of a coach is much more demanding than what most people would realize.”
Information regarding the selection of a new men’s basketball coach will be available soon.