Steve Schafer, a 2001 graduate of Augustana, has been selected to become the 16th head men’s basketball coach in Viking history.
He will replace Grey Giovanine, who retired May 5 after 21 seasons as head coach.
“I am honored to be selected as the next head men's basketball coach at Augustana College. I want to thank President Bahls, Vice President Barnds and Vice President Brooks for taking the time to meet with me during this process," Schafer said.
"Their leadership, vision and support for Augustana College and the athletics department is undeniable,” he said.
Schafer was recruited as a student-athlete to Augustana in 1997 by Steve Yount, who preceded Giovanine as head coach.
“I would also like to thank Athletic Director Mike Zapolski for his leadership during this coaching search and entrusting me with this once-in a-lifetime opportunity. I look forward to his mentorship," Schafer said.
I am elated to be back home where it all began for me 20 years ago, and cannot wait to get started.
"Lastly, I would like to thank coach Grey Giovanine for the incredible culture he and his staff has built around Augustana basketball. I am elated to be back home where it all began for me 20 years ago, and cannot wait to get started."
Schafer has a wealth of small-college experience. He comes to Augustana after a five-year stint as the head men’s basketball coach and director of athletics at Benedictine-Mesa University in Mesa, Ariz.
He had the unique challenge of starting Benedictine-Mesa’s athletic program from scratch in 2014 when he was hired. He took the department from 60 student-athletes and eight club sports in 2014-15 to its present number of 325 student-athletes and 13 intercollegiate varsity programs.
"I am extremely pleased to welcome Steve Schafer back to Augustana as our next head men's basketball coach,” said Zapolski. “Steve's administrative background and extensive coaching experiences at multiple small colleges have prepared him well for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
"I look forward to partnering with Steve, his staff and our student-athletes to continue the rich, storied tradition of Augustana men's basketball."
Before starting the athletics program at Benedictine-Mesa, Schafer was the head men’s basketball coach at Fontbonne University in St. Louis. He improved the Fontbonne Griffins’ victory total each of his three seasons at the helm.
He also spent two years as the assistant men’s basketball coach and athletic recruiting coordinator at the Benedictine campus in Lisle, Ill., from 2009-11. He was the assistant coach at North Park from 2004-09 and Wayne State from 2001-04.
He graduated from Augustana in 2001 with a B.A. in speech communications. He earned an M.S. in education with an emphasis on sports management from Wayne State College in Nebraska.
A native of Batavia, Ill., Schafer was a member of the Augustana men’s basketball team from 1997-2000 but his playing time was limited by injuries. He served as a student-assistant for the men’s program under Giovanine in his senior year of 2000-01.
Schafer will be leading a Viking basketball program that owns 18 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin championships and has made seven national final four appearances. Over the last six years, Augustana has averaged nearly 25 wins per season, won five CCIW titles and made five trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament, including national runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017.
The Vikings started playing basketball in 1901 and in 116 years have compiled an overall record of 1580-943 (.626). Augustana has made 28 post-season appearances and has a record of 60-33.
The Vikings have been in the NCAA Division III National Tournament 18 times, NAIA five times, NCAA College Division four times and the United States Olympic Trials once.
Dave Wrath, 309-794-7265