Dr. Homer Drew retired from his position as head coach of the Valparaiso men's basketball program on May 17, 2011, but remains within the Crusader athletic department as an associate director of athletics. Drew put Valparaiso University and its men’s basketball program on the map, not only nationally but also internationally, over the course of his career with his “Building a Tradition” philosophy, which reached euphoric heights in 1998 as Valparaiso advanced to the Sweet Sixten of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Drew closed his 22-year tenure with the Crusaders with 371 career victories and led Valparaiso to nine postseason appearances over his final 16 seasons, a stretch in which Valpo averaged nearly 20 wins per season. Drew ended his career, which also included stints at Bethel [Ind.] (1976-1987) and IU-South Bend (1987-1988), with 640 career victories over 34 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 at the time of his retirement. The nine postseason appearances include seven trips to the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by the Crusaders’ run to the Sweet Sixteen in 1998, when Valpo defeated Ole Miss and Florida State in a Cinderella journey that captivated the nation.
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.
In his final years, Drew 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 season as a Horizon League member, as Valpo earned a victory at Washington in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. In his final season in 2010-2011, 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.
In the final regular-season game before the conference tournament in 1992-1993, Valpo traveled to Notre Dame and defeated the Irish, 80-66. The victory was Drew’s second in five years over Notre Dame, joining a 71-68 overtime upset of the Irish in 1988 in front of a packed house at the Athletics-Recreation Center, known as “The Miracle on Union Street.”
Although the Crusaders led the nation in three-point field goal percentage in 1992-1993, it was not the first time a Drew-coached Valpo team made the national spotlight for its shooting beyond the arc. During the 1988-1989 campaign, the Crusaders set a then-NCAA Division I record with 19 successful three-pointers against Butler. Valpo finished second in the nation in three-point field goals made per game that year, making 8.9 per contest.
In his early coaching years, Drew had an opportunity to assist the well-respected Dale Brown at Louisiana State from 1972-1976. Prior to his days at LSU, Drew spent the 1971-1972 season as an assistant at Washington State University. A native of Saint Louis, Drew earned a Doctorate in educational administration from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan in 1983. He achieved a Bachelor of Arts in physical education and social studies at William Jewell (Mo.) College in 1966 before completing his Master of Arts in education at Washington (Mo.) University in 1968.
In August of 1995, Drew served as Head Coach of the Athletes in Action European Tour Team which traveled to Germany, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece. The AIA team consisted of two players from Duke University, the University of Tennessee and the University of Miami, along with two Valpo players, Chris Ensminger and Bryce Drew.
Drew had 32 players go on to play professional basketball or baseball, including his son, Bryce Drew, who was drafted 16th in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. The 1998 draft also included Drew’s son-in-law, Casey Shaw out of Toledo University, who was taken 37th by the Philadelphia 76ers.
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.
Drew was presented in 1999 with the Lumen Christi Medal, 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. At the Final Four in 2012, Drew was honored as the recipient of the 2012 Coach John Wooden “Keys to Life” Award at the annual Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast.
Drew is twice a member of the Valparaiso University Hall of Fame, as he was inducted as part of the 1997-1998 team in 2009 and then was inducted individually in 2012. He was also named one of the 150 most influential people in Valparaiso University history in 2009 as part of the university's celebration of its 150th anniversary.
Drew received distinguished recognition for his coaching career when he was inducted into the Bethel College Hall of Fame in 1998. He was also inducted into the Halls of Fame at William Jewell College and Webster Groves High School in St. Louis, Mo. for his achievements on the basketball court. Following Valpo’s magical run to the Sweet 16 in 1998, Drew coauthored Find a Way: Valpo’s Sweet Dream with Shawn Malayter and Rob Rains. He has also produced 15 videotapes to help coaches in the profession. In May of 2001, Drew was asked to give the commencement address at Valparaiso University’s graduation ceremonies.
By his own admission, one of Drew’s greatest achievements is that he has sent over 80 players into either the teaching or coaching professions. Three of his former assistants are now head coaches on the Division I level: sons Scott (Baylor) and Bryce (Valparaiso), and Rex Walters (San Francisco).
Drew and his wife, Janet, have three grown children, Scott, Dana and Bryce, and have seven grandchildren.