The Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award was instituted by the Board of Trustees of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973 and is the most prestigious award presented by the Hall of Fame outside of Enshrinement. Named in honor of Hall of Famer John W. Bunn (Class of 1964), the first chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame Committee who served from 1949-1964, the award honors coaches, players and contributors whose outstanding accomplishments have impacted the high school, college, professional or international game.
“Coach Don Meyer is the embodiment of what the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “He has amassed more wins as a coach in men’s NCAA and NAIA combined play than anyone and his life’s work has touched a tremendous amount of young men with his passionate coaching, teaching, and mentoring. He has faced and overcome significant adversities in his life and yet remained true to his players and his love of the game. He has truly committed his life to basketball and as importantly to those who played for him.”
Meyer’s outstanding 42-year coaching career began when he joined Western State College of Colorado as an assistant from 1968 to 1970, a year after graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. He went on to the University of Utah, where he served as an assistant from 1970-72 and earned his Ph.D. Later in 1972, Meyer began his head coaching career, joining Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota (Div. III), where he worked until 1975. From 1975 through 1999, Meyer was the head coach at David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn (NAIA). At Lipscomb, Meyer’s teams averaged 32 wins per season over a ten-year span from 1987-97, including a college coaching record 41 wins in 1989-90 when he went 41-5. Meyer led Lipscomb to 13 postseason appearances, and his team led the country in scoring for five years (1989-90, ’92-93 and ’95). Meyer guided Lipscomb to the NAIA National Championship in 1986.
In 1999, Meyer was named head coach at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota (Div. II) where he remained until announcing his retirement in February. At Northern State, Meyer enjoyed seven consecutive 20-plus win seasons from 2001-08, winning Northern Sun Inter-collegiate season championships in 2002 and ’03, and tournament championships in ’04 and ’05.
Among the many honors accumulated during his career, Meyer was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1990. He was enshrined to the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1993 and was awarded with the Charles A. Kriegel Award in 1986 and 1996. Last July, Meyer was presented with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance after coping with a near-fatal automobile accident that occurred during a team retreat on September 5, 2008. In surgery after the accident, Meyer lost much of his left leg and was later diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He continued courageously to coach, using a wheelchair and cane on the sidelines during the past two seasons. Meyer’s career has been chronicled by ESPN’s Buster Olney in “How Lucky Can You Be, The Story of Coach Don Meyer” which will be published in September 2010. In addition to his many coaching honors, Meyer’s series of instructional coaching DVDs/videos and his Don Meyer Coaches Academy are legendary tools for nearly all coaches in the profession. The Wayne, Nebraska native continues to serve at Northern State as a professor and is a highly respected and sought after national speaker.
Coach Meyer will be presented the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2010 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies, to be held at the “Hall of Fame Family Reunion Dinner” on Thursday, August 12. The annual Enshrinement Ceremony will be held on Friday, August 13. For ticket information, please visit http://www.hoophall.com/