DePauw’s Fenlon Announces Retirement Following 2021-22 Season

Bill Fenlon, the winningest head coach in DePauw men’s basketball history, announced today that the 2021-22 season will be his final year of coaching at DePauw. A national search for his replacement will begin later in the season.

“Being the head coach at DePauw University has been the great good fortune of my life,” said Fenlon. “The relationships built and experiences shared with student-athletes, assistant coaches, athletic department colleagues, and friends in the campus and Greencastle communities have made my life incredibly full and rewarding. I want to thank the entire DePauw family, past and present, for the opportunity and support I’ve been afforded over these last 30 years. It’s truly been the honor of a lifetime. A special thanks to my home team. My partner Gigi Jennewein, Professor Emerita of Communication and Theatre, and my kids Hannah and Quinn. All good teams require sacrifice and they’ve made many over the years. It wouldn’t have worked without their help.”

Fenlon, who arrived in Greencastle in April 1992 following a total of seven seasons as a head coach at Sewanee, Rose-Hulman, and Southwestern (Texas), has amassed a 469-282 record in 29 seasons at DePauw and is 576-351 in 36 seasons overall as a collegiate head coach. He enters the season ranked fifth among active Division III coaches in victories.

“For three decades, Bill has been the face of DePauw men’s basketball and has made a tremendous impact on the student-athletes he’s coached and on the campus in general,” director of athletics Stevie Baker-Watson said. “I hope that his final season is filled with wonderful memories and, while we will miss him in the Lilly Center, he will always be a part of Team DePauw.”

The Tigers are coming off one of the best seasons in program history as they finished with a 12-1 record with a schedule shortened due to COVID-19. DePauw finished the year ranked 10th by, marking the 13th season in the 22-year history of the rankings that the Tigers have received votes or been ranked.

Fenlon was recognized as the 2021 Jack Bennett Award recipient which is presented annually to a non-Division I head coach who achieves success on the basketball court, while displaying great moral integrity off of the court as well,

In his first season with the Tigers, Fenlon led the Tigers to an Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference title and an appearance in the NCAA postseason tournament.

In 2001-02, his Tigers captured the program’s first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and a bid into the NCAA Championship. The Tigers finished the season with a 24-4 record before bowing out in the national quarterfinals to eventual national champion, Otterbein. He was named the SCAC Coach of the Year that season and the Tigers were ranked fourth in the final poll.

In 2006, the Tigers captured the SCAC title to earn an automatic spot in the postseason before garnering an at-large bid in 2007 with a squad that finished with a 22-6 record. Fenlon was named the SCAC Coach of the Year in 2011 which was the Tigers’ final in the conference.

The 2015 Tigers beat three nationally-ranked teams in a span of seven days including two on the opponents’ home court to win the NCAC tournament and an NCAA first-round game before losing a two-point contest at eventual NCAA finalist Augustana.

In January 2017, DePauw alumni and friends raised over $400,000 in establishing the William J. Fenlon Endowed Fund for Men’s Basketball Travel which will fund student-athlete travel, including international trips combining competition and cultural opportunities.

Fenlon’s impact has been felt beyond the student-athletes he’s coached as evidenced by the success of his May Term alliance with PeacePlayers International in which he and Gigi have led groups of DePauw students to Northern Ireland to use basketball as a means to bridge the existing divide.

A mentor to many coaches, Fenlon’s coaching tree includes not only his former student-athletes, but also former DePauw assistant coaches. In all, over 20 former players or assistant coaches are currently in college and professional basketball, including 10 who are or have been head coaches..

Brad Stevens ’99, president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, is one of those influenced by Fenlon.

“It’s very rare in coaching to be at one place for thirty years,” Stevens said. “Obviously, Coach is really good at his job, but beyond that he shows daily how much he cares about DePauw, his players and his peers. As he always says “it’s a relationship business.” DePauw is fortunate to have had him steering the men’s basketball program, and we all have been lucky that he was our coach.” 

DePauw opens the 2021-22 season in Neal Fieldhouse on Sunday, November 7, when it hosts Benedictine at 3 p.m.

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