Valparaiso University president Mark Heckler announced Tuesday morning at a press conference on the Valparaiso campus that Dr. Homer Drew has made the decision to step down, effective immediately, from his position as head men's basketball coach at Valparaiso. Drew closes his 22-year tenure with the Crusaders with 371 career victories and led Valparaiso to nine postseason appearances over his final 16 seasons.
“We are extremely grateful for Homer Drew’s 22 years of service to the Valparaiso men’s basketball program,” said Heckler. “He has been one of our greatest coaches, taking the men’s basketball program to unprecedented heights during his tenure.”
Drew concludes his coaching career, which also included stints at Bethel [Ind.] and IU-South Bend, with 640 career victories over 32 seasons overall, a number which ranked him sixth among active head coaches and 28th overall among coaches with at least ten years of NCAA Division I coaching experience. The nine postseason appearances include seven trips to the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by the Crusaders' run to the Sweet 16 in 1998, when Valpo defeated Ole Miss and Florida State in a Cinderella journey that captivated the nation.
Already a member of the Valparaiso University Hall of Fame as part of the 1997-1998 squad and one of the 150 most influential people in Valparaiso University history, Drew arrived at Valpo prior to the 1988-1989 season and created a program renowned nationwide as one of the elite mid-major programs. During his time at the helm of the Crusaders, Drew led Valparaiso to eight regular season conference championships, eight conference tournament titles and ten 20-win seasons, in addition to the nine postseason appearances.
Drew enjoyed a stretch from 1994-1995 through 2001-2002 where he guided the Crusaders to either a conference regular season or conference tournament title in eight straight seasons, which included six trips to the NCAA Tournament. After taking a year off to serve as Special Assistant to the President for University Advancement, Drew returned to the sidelines in 2003-2004 and led Valpo to both regular season and tournament conference championships, culminating in yet another berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Most recently, Drew has helped guide the Valparaiso men's basketball program in its transition into the Horizon League, a league which has been ranked among the top-ten leagues nationally. Drew led the Crusaders to a postseason berth in their first as a Horizon League member, as Valpo earned a victory at Washington in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. This past season, Drew guided Valpo to a 23-win campaign as the Crusaders came up just one game short of a Horizon League regular season championship and earned yet another postseason berth.
Over the course of his extensive coaching career, Drew has earned numerous honors and accolades. Prior to the first exhibition game of the 2010-2011 season, the newly-installed floor in the main arena of the Athletics-Recreation Center was officially dedicated as Homer Drew Court, recognizing his contributions to the men's basketball program, the athletic department and Valparaiso University as a whole.
A ten-time Coach of the Year honoree, Drew was awarded the Lumen Christi Medal in 1999, Valparaiso University’s highest honor in recognition of a lay person’s distinguished service to church and society. He received the Mid-Continent Conference’s Commissioner’s Award of Merit, the league’s most prestigious honor, in October of 2002, and also was honored with the Naismith Good Sportsmanship Award from the Naismith International Basketball Foundation in 1998.
While Drew's time on the sidelines at the helm of the Valparaiso men's basketball program is over, he will stay on within the Valparaiso athletic department as the Associate Director of Athletics, assisting Athletic Director Mark LaBarbera with fund-raising for the department and other special projects.