Herb Magee goes for his 903rd win as a college basketball coach tonight as he and his Philadelphia University Rams host Goldey-Beacom College. A win this evening, if it happens, will put Magee at the top of the all-time NCAA wins list for a men’s basketball coach. Magee tied Bobby Knight on that list this past Saturday by achieving his 902nd win in a buzzer-beater against Post University.
It’s easy to tilt our heads, offer a short patronizing applause, and then forget about men like Magee, or like Don Meyer, the all-time wins leader for a men’s college coach (many of his wins came at Lipscomb when they were a member of the NAIA) who announced that he’d be retiring at the end of this season, because they don’t coach at the so-called “elite” level. But these men don’t need our patronization. They don’t coach basketball because it’s cute, because it’s easy — yeah, you try it — or because they want attention. Magee (and certainly Meyer) could have had all the attention he wanted, given the number of offers he’s had for higher profile jobs. These are men who coach basketball and stay at the Division II level or lower because this is where they feel they can best be both coaches and educators. It’s where they feel they can do the most good for their student/athletes when teaching them about existence both on and off the basketball floor, and/or because they know that the brighter spotlight inherent in the higher-profile jobs also comes with innumerable extra headaches that might compromise what they’re really out to achieve.