Don Meyer, the long-time men’s basketball coach at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, died Sunday morning of cancer at his home in Aberdeen, the Associated Press reports. Meyer, who began his coaching career at Hamline University in St. Paul, was 69.
Meyer was one of the most successful coaches in college basketball. He coached for 38 years, most of that time at Lipscomb in Tennessee and Northern State in South Dakota. He had a 923-324 overall record, and led his teams to the playoffs 19 times. Meyer coached basketball at Hamline from 1972-1975.
"He won his greatest victory and is now running again and gearing up to pitch nine innings," the Meyer family said in a statement. "The family appreciates the outpouring of love, prayers and concern."
Meyer graduated from Northern Colorado in 1967, where he played baseball and basketball. he Associated Press reports.
Meyer came back from a near-fatal car accident and a subsequent cancer diagnosis in September 2008, and it was just a few months later that he passed Bobby Knight as the winningest coach in NCAA men's basketball. He retired after the 2010 season. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski surpassed his record in 2012.
After the accident, Meyer's leg was amputated and he suffered internal injuries. It was then that doctors discovered he had liver cancer. Meyer found the bright side of it.
“What’s great about this is I would not have known about the cancer had I not had the wreck,” Meyer told The Associated Press at the time. “God has blessed me with the one thing we all need, which is truth. I can now fight with all of my ability.”
Meyer also vowed to be strong for his team, even though he would be leading them on the sidelines from a wheelchair, according to a 2009 blog post from MPR News.
"Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses,” Meyer said was his philosophy.
Meyer is survived by his wife and three children.