College of the Ozarks’ Athletic Director Al Waller will retire at the close of the 2014-2015 school year. Waller has worked at the College for 37 years in a variety of roles. Currently he is serving as Athletic Director, Co-Director of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, and Head Coach of the Men’s & Women’s Cross Country teams. Waller has also served as an Associate Professor at the College teaching Math (through 2013), Commissioner of the MCAC Athletic Conference for nearly 20 years, and President of the NAIA Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Association (1995-96). In addition, Waller was the Men’s Basketball coach at College of the Ozarks for 25 years, where he accumulated 458 wins, 12 conference championships, and six NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship appearances.
Known for his affable personality, ready smile and love of sports, Coach Waller has served as a leader in collegiate athletics both locally, regionally and nationally. Among his many accolades are: NAIA Athletic Director of the Year (1998), conference coach of the year 12 times, NAIA Athletics Administrator of the Year (1999), NAIA Hall of Fame Inductee (2004), and Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Inductee (2003). Waller is also very active within the local community as a long-time Branson Rotary Club member, Rotarian of the Year (2001), Branson Chamber of Commerce Ambassador (2001), and member of the Board of Directors for Christian Action Ministries (CAM), including a term as President.
Waller has made many significant contributions to the College’s athletic program, the MCAC and the NAIA throughout his tenure and will leave big shoes to fill.
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Shepherd has been named as the College’s Athletic Director beginning June 2015. Since Waller stepped down as men’s basketball head coach 12 years ago, Shepherd has led the Bobcats to a national title, made three final four appearances, and garnered a conference title along with two conference tournament titles. Shepherd holds an overall record of 261-138 and will continue as Head Coach alongside his Athletic Director responsibilities.
Filling Waller’s role related to the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship will be former C of O men’s basketball star Mike Wiebe. Wiebe will work part-time this year alongside Waller to learn his responsibilities for the tournament. Having participated in the tournament throughout his C of O playing career, Wiebe will now get his first behind-the-scenes look at the many details involved in tournament preparation and implementation.
Waller has also resigned his position as Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner, effective this month. Al Waller was just the second commissioner in the history of the MCAC, as well as the longest-tenured—holding the post for nearly 20 years. Kevin Broderick of Nebraska was named this week as the new MCAC Commissioner.
Coach Waller will have to wait until retirement to look back on his successful career at College of the Ozarks. Training his many replacements and coaching the College’s men’s and women’s new Cross Country teams will certainly keep him on his toes during his final year.