Courtesy of Wooster Athletics
Steve Moore, quite simply one of the most successful basketball coaches in NCAA Division III history, has announced that he'll retire at the conclusion of the 2019-20 academic year. The 2019-20 season will mark Moore's 33rd leading the Fighting Scots, and his 39th as a Div. III head coach.
"I have been blessed to have the opportunity to coach at an outstanding institution for many years and to have the tremendously good fortune and extreme pleasure to coach so many excellent players and outstanding men, alongside a great coaching staff," said Moore. "I am looking forward to coaching and being with another very special group of players during the 2019-20 season."
"When Steve and I discussed his plan and he confirmed his decision with me, it was bittersweet," said athletic director Keith Beckett. "Bitter because of the reality that one of the greatest coaches in basketball, and more specifically Wooster's coach for over three decades, would be completing his final season leading the Fighting Scots. Sweet because I could see the happiness and confidence from Steve in his decision, knowing that for an additional year he would lead our program, and that very soon thereafter, he and Jane would rejoice in retirement."
"I have had a unique and special journey with Steve," continued Beckett, who was the College's swimming and diving head coach at the time of Moore's hire. "I was on the search committee that selected him as our coach. From that day, I witnessed a master of coaching and teaching. He's achieved all that he has accomplished through being among the best in recruiting, player development, opponent analysis, game knowledge, coaching, work ethic, and commitment, to name a few."
Moore heads into his final season with a career record of 846-245, including an extraordinary mark of 759-180 at Wooster. He's 12th all-time among NCAA men's coaches in wins and second within Div. III. While at Wooster, Moore's directed the Scots to 27 NCAA Tournament berths and a league-high 18 North Coast Athletic Conference championships, while compiling an .808 winning percentage.
Wooster's recent stretch has been most impressive, as the Scots have won 25 or more games 11 times over the last 21 seasons, highlighted by advancing to the national championship game and winning a team-record 31 games (31-3) during 2010-11. The Scots also reached the semifinals of the NCAA Div. III Championships in the 2002-03 and 2006-07 seasons, posting 30 wins in the former (30-3), and also of note, Wooster's made it to the sectional round ("Sweet 16") 10 years since 1998-99.
In fact, no NCAA men's team has won as frequently as Wooster during the 2000s. The Scots' .827 winning percentage (501-105) since the start of the 1999-00 season is higher than Duke University, Gonzaga University, the University of Kansas, and every other NCAA men's program during that time.
For his efforts, Moore's been named NCAC Coach of the Year on nine occasions and the National Association of Basketball Coaches District Coach of the Year for the Great Lakes five times. In April 2008, the NABC presented him a prestigious "Guardian of the Game" award for education, an honor also once bestowed to the legendary John Wooden.
Individually, Wooster student-athletes have earned 10 NABC All-American, four NABC District Player of the Year, 28 NABC All-District, and 108 All-NCAC certificates under Moore, while Bryan Nelson was voted the NABC's Player of the Year in 2003.
Associate head coach Doug Cline will assume the head coaching position immediately following Moore's retirement. He'll become the program's 13th head coach, and just the fifth since the 1961-62 season.
"It's bittersweet knowing after next year that Coach Moore and I won't be together coaching anymore," said Cline. "He'll still be around the program in a big way. It'll definitely feel different with us not being together. He's like another father, a mentor, and a best friend to me. In life, you move on to different chapters, and this one I'll never forget. I want to thank Coach Moore for putting me in position to be the next head coach at The College of Wooster and for helping me become the coach and person I am today. I have learned so much from him on and off the court. He is one of the best coaches in college basketball, but more importantly to me, he is an even better person. I can't thank him enough for everything he has done for my family and me. I'd also like to thank President Bolton, Carolyn Newton, and Keith Beckett for this exciting opportunity to lead the program at my alma mater."
"(Lauren and I) can't really thank the Wooster community enough for all of their support over the years," continued Cline. "There's no place I'd rather be than Wooster. The opportunity to have my kids grow up around the College and my immediate family means a lot to me, and this allows my kids to be able to continue to do that."
"In essence, we have had two head coaches for several years," added Moore. "Coach Cline has been involved in all aspects of our coaching and has been as important to the success of our program as anyone. It is a tremendous feeling knowing that Coach Cline will be in charge of Wooster basketball, as our players, and all who support the Fighting Scots, appreciate what Doug has meant to the program."
"Doug's succession as the next head men's basketball coach following Coach Moore's retirement will create a seamless transition," said Beckett. "Doug has been a cornerstone of our coaching staff and intimately connected to many of the excellent accomplishments and traditions of Fighting Scots basketball for over two decades. His knowledge of the game, coaching, commitment, and Fighting Scot spirit are of the highest level. Having played for, studied under, and been mentored by Coach Moore, Doug has developed into the best coach to replace Steve and lead the program."
Few people, if any, understand the Wooster basketball experience more fully than Cline, a 1995 graduate, who has been a full-time member of the coaching staff for 23 seasons. Cline's played a major role in Wooster's 571-141 record as a full-time assistant.
As a player, Cline was a member of one of the top basketball classes ever at Wooster. The three-time all-conference selection helped lead the Scots to three NCAA Tournament appearances, three NCAC Tournament championships, two NCAC regular season titles, and a record of 91-21 (.813) in four years.
"We will continue to work hard to recruit high quality student-athletes to Wooster, who can carry on the winning tradition that Coach Mose Hole, Coach Al Van Wie, and Coach Steve Moore have established," wrapped up Cline. "While I look forward to leading The College of Wooster men's basketball program beginning with the 2020-21 season, I am most concerned with making sure Coach Moore's last season as head coach is a successful and fun year."