Coaching legend looks back

on 34-season career

A history of success

By Dennis O'Donnell

MAY 10, 2010

Neer is Rochester’s winningest coach in men’s basketball and guided the Yellowjackets to the school’s 1,000th, 1,100th, and 1,200th all-time basketball victories.

1989–90: Yellowjackets won the NCAA Division III national championship, defeating DePauw University, 43–42.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) selected Neer as its Kodak Division III Coach of the Year in 1990.

Neer and his staff have been chosen as the University Athletic Association Coaching Staff of the Year three times—in 1991–92, in 2001–02, and in 2003–04. Rochester won three UAA championships—1991–92, 2003–04, 2004-05.

Neer’s teams reached the Final Four on three occasions—1992, 2002, and 2005—and played in two more championship games (1992, 2005).

Rochester reached the Sweet 16 round in 2003, 2004, and 2008, and the Elite 8 one other time, in 1991.

Neer’s record in the NCAA Division III tournament is among the top 10 winning percentages in tournament history: 25–11 (69.4 percent).

His 2007–08 team enjoyed a six-week run as the nation’s top-ranked team.

Since 1984, five of Neer’s players have been named to the national Academic All-America team by the College Sports Information Directors of America: Joe Augustine (1984, 1985), Tyler Zachem (1986), David Beck (1993), Darrin Hubert (1996), Seth Hauben (2005).

Mike Neer, the University’s winningest men’s basketball coach, is retiring from his position after 34 seasons leading the Yellowjackets.

Neer has coached the Yellowjackets since the1976–77 season. He retires with a career record of 563 wins, 326 losses (63.3 percent winning percentage).

“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead teams representing the University of Rochester,” says Neer. “I am proud of our teams’ many accomplishments and of the manner in which we’ve competed.

“It has been equally gratifying to see our players continue their success in their personal and professional lives. In addition to these players, I want to express my appreciation and thanks to the countless administrators, faculty, and athletics department colleagues with whom I’ve worked since 1976.”

Neer’s players distinguished themselves on and off the court and in the postgraduate world. Five players were honored as Academic All-Americans. His alumni have found success in the fields of education, law, medicine, business, finance, telecommunications, and coaching.

As a team, the Yellowjackets have been honored four times with the Sam Schoenfeld Award from the Western New York chapter of the College Basketball Officials Association. The award is presented annually to a college for outstanding sportsmanship.

“I want to thank Mike for his 34 years of service to the University and our students,” says George VanderZwaag, director of athletics at Rochester. “He is a true coaching legend, and his legacy at Rochester will endure.”

On January 5, 2007, Neer earned his 500th career coaching victory. The University presented Neer with a proclamation to celebrate his milestone win. The proclamation was presented by President Joel Seligman; G. Robert Witmer ’59, then the chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees; and VanderZwaag.

“Mike Neer’s coaching record at Rochester has been truly remarkable,” Seligman says. “We wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Neer is a 1970 graduate of Washington & Lee University, where he earned All-Virginia Small College honors. Neer had a summertime tryout with the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals. He received his naval commission after playing briefly in Europe. From 1972–76, Neer coached the plebe (freshman) team at the U.S. Naval Academy (41–18 record).

He earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Rochester in 1988. He and his wife, Connie, are the parents of Tyler, 31, and Cary, 28.