ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It appears that Steve Fritz will cap his basketball coaching career as a national champion.
After 31 years as the University of St. Thomas men’s basketball coach, Fritz announced Thursday on the St. Thomas web site and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference website that he is resigning. The Tommies won the NCAA Division III national title, the school’s first, back in March.
Fritz said Thursday he will remain the school’s athletic director, a spot he has held at the school for 20 years. Assistant Coach John Tauer has been named the team’s interim head coach for the 2011-12 season. A search for a full-time head coach will start in the spring of 2012. Tauer played for Fritz and was an assistant for the Tommies for 11 years.
Fritz compiled a 594-246 record in 31 seasons as head coach, meaning he won nearly 71 percent of his games. He also played for the Tommies from 1967 to 1971.
For Fritz, coaching a Division III sport was about a lot more than winning. He said it’s about helping shape the lives of his players.
“What you appreciate is certainly the good things you’ve done on the court. But what you really like to is when you see the guys and they are good family men, good fathers and what they’re doing in their career. That’s what’s really special,” Fritz said.
St. Thomas baseball coach Chris Olean summed up how the entire athletic department at St. Thomas reacted to the news.
“For all of us I think we were a little bit surprised just to see that came when it did. Winning the title was great. But he just loves basketball so we were kind of surprised by it,” said O’Lean.