February 13, 2014

Waller to Coach All-Star Game in KC

Al WallerLegendary NAIA men’s basketball coaches Don Meyer and Al Waller have been selected as the head coaches for the Inaugural 2014 NABC-NAIA Men’s Basketball All-Star Game, presented by US Bank. Meyer—who spent the majority of his career coaching at Lipscomb (Tenn.), a former NAIA Division I school—will coach the NAIA Division I All-Stars. Waller—who spent his entire collegiate coaching career at College of the Ozarks (Mo.), a NAIA Division II program—will lead the All-Stars from NAIA Division II.

The All-Star Game will take place at 8 p.m. CST on Saturday, March 22 and will feature 10 players from NAIA Division I competing against 10 players from NAIA Division II. The game will be played as two 20-minute halves. The All-Star Game is the centerpiece of a day that includes the NABC-NAIA Slam Dunk and 3-Point Contests, presented by Rawlings. These events will occur during Quarterfinals of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship from Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. To buy tickets, for as low as $5 fo the entire day, click here.

Meyer, a 1993 NAIA Hall of Fame inductee, spent 38 years as a head men’s basketball coach—24 at the NAIA level. Over his coaching career at Hamline (Minn.), Lipscomb (Tenn.) and Northern State (S.D.), Meyer compiled a 923-324 record, making him one of just seven college basketball coaches, at any level, to accumulate 900 career wins. At Lipscomb, Meyer led the Bison to 13 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship appearances, winning the title in 1986.

For his accomplishments, Meyer was inducted into the Northern Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame, Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame, Northern State Athletics Hall of Fame, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Hall of Fame, South Dakota Hall of Fame and South Dakota Athletic Hall of Fame.

Meyer, a cancer survivor, has also received many national awards, including the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance at the 2009 ESPY Awards, the John Wooden Keys to Life Award at the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Induction and the 2012 James Naismith Outstanding Contribution to Men’s Basketball Award.

"When you are an NAIA guy, it is a life time commitment," said Meyer. "I'm really looking forward to being with some great coaches, and especially my friend Al Waller, who has taught me many lessons on and off the basketball court.  These types of honors bring to mind all other past players and teams you coached that truly reached for greatness."

Waller, a 2004 NAIA Hall of Fame inductee, spent 25 years as the head men’s basketball coach at College of the Ozarks. Waller accumulated 458 wins, 12 conference championships and six NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship appearances in his 25 years with the Bobcats. He was named conference coach of the year 12 times and was chosen as the 1999 NAIA Athletics Administrator of the Year in his role as College of the Ozarks Athletic Director. He also played a pivotal role in bringing the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship to Point Lookout, Mo., where it has been held since 2000.

For his accomplishments, Waller was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. 

"It’s a real honor to be chosen to coach the Division II All-Star Team," said Waller. "NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball has always been a big part of my life after coaching for 25 years and serving as Director of the NAIA Division II National Championship tournament the past 14 years. Also, getting a chance to return to Municipal Auditorium is exciting because I can remember attending many NAIA games there when I was in high school and in my first few years of high school coaching."

Waller expounds on his memories of the event in Kansas City and coaching against Meyer.

"I also served on the Tournament Committee for six years in the 1980s and was Chair of the Red Coats (game administrators) during the 50th anniversary of the tournament. I think that coaching against Don Meyer will be a big treat. We have been friends for a long time and I need a chance to even-up my coaching record against him.  I brought my team to Nashville to play David Lipscomb in the late 1970s and they whipped us."

While both Meyer (2010) and Waller (2002) are retired from coaching, both remain involved in higher education. Meyer is the Regents Distinguished Professor and Assistant to the President at Northern State. Waller is the athletic director at College of the Ozarks and the commissioner of the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference. He also serves as the tournament director of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.

The NABC-NAIA Men's Basketball All-Star Committee determined the selection criteria for the All-Star Game head coaches and oversaw the selection process. Criteria taken into account were each coach's impact on NAIA men's basketball and overall on-court success. The Committee is comprised of current men's basketball head coaches from both divisions of NAIA Basketball.

Submitted by: Sam Knehans, NAIA Communications & Sports Information Intern