Following the completion of a national search, Assistant Chancellor and Director of Athletics Darryl Sims announced Wednesday (May 1) that the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh has removed the interim designation on men’s basketball head coach Matt Lewis, who guided the Titans to their first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III title in March.
Lewis had been UW-Oshkosh’s interim head coach since taking over the program in May 2018 after serving six seasons as the Titans’ top assistant.
“Matt has done an outstanding job for UW-Oshkosh the past seven years and has earned the right to lead our men’s basketball program on a permanent basis,” said Sims. “Matt is committed to the student-athlete mission of the university and has the competitiveness, grit, knowledge, and tireless focus on recruiting and player development to be a very good head coach at the collegiate level for a long time.”
Last season Lewis guided UW-Oshkosh to its most successful season in the 121-year history of the program. Lewis and the Titans capped off the campaign with a 96-82 victory over Swarthmore College (Pa.) in the national championship game.
“Gaelyn, my fiancée, and I are beyond excited to be continuing at UW-Oshkosh,” said Lewis. “This season, and the past seven years, have shown us what a special place this is. UW-Oshkosh and the Fox Valley have become a home for us and we are thrilled to continue building our life here.”
Lewis led UW-Oshkosh to a 29-3 record and several school marks during his debut season. The Titans claimed their first outright Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title since 1978 before going on to win six NCAA postseason games by an average of 15.5 points en route to the national title. UW-Oshkosh averaged 93.7 points in its six Division III Championship victories and set the school’s NCAA postseason scoring record with its 108-point performance against University of Northwestern (Minn.) during the second round.
Under Lewis’ direction UW-Oshkosh established school records with 29 wins, 2,715 points, 961 made field goals, 2,018 field goal attempts, 1,308 rebounds, 325 made 3-pointers, 866 3-point attempts, 148 blocks and a 21-game winning streak. The Titans’ totals for made 3-pointers and 3-point attempts are also WIAC records, while their winning streak and win total rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in league history.
Lewis, whose .906 winning percentage is the best among all 1,098 active NCAA men’s basketball coaches, collected Division III Coach of the Year honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), D3hoops.com, DIII News and the Glenn Robinson Award committee. Lewis was also named WIAC Coach of the Year and Division III Public Schools Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
Lewis’ 2019 squad had four All-WIAC First Team selections for the first time in program history, including Player of the Year Ben Boots. Boots went on to receive All-America First Team honors from the NABC and D3hoops.com in addition to being named the NABC Central Region Player of the Year and WBCA’s Division III Public Schools Player of the Year. Jack Flynn, the Most Outstanding Player at the Division III Championship, was also named an All-American by D3hoops.com.
The Titans concluded their national championship season ranked high among the Division III leaders in several statistical categories, including fourth in total rebounds, seventh in blocks, 10th in average scoring margin (+15.7), 12th in made 3-pointers and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.50), and 13th in turnovers per game (10.6) and average rebounding margin (+8.8).
“I would like to extend a huge thank you to Darryl Sims, along with UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt for the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program this past season and for entrusting me with the future of the Titans.”
Lewis was elevated to interim head coach after previous UW-Oshkosh head coach Pat Juckem accepted the lead position of the Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) men’s basketball program.
During his six seasons as the Titans’ top assistant, Lewis led UW-Oshkosh’s recruiting and scouting efforts that yielded three consecutive trips to the NCAA Division III postseason, including the program’s first appearance in the national title game in 2018.
“I am so thankful for the high-character young men that are and have been members of our program,” Lewis said. “Our players, assistant coaches, and support staff make UW-Oshkosh men’s basketball what it is. Our vision has been to be the elite program in the WIAC and compete for national championships. We accomplished some incredible things this past season, but that does not change our vision. The Titan basketball family is going to continue fighting for what we have.”
Lewis began his coaching career as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Rhodes College (Tenn.) in 2010. He also had coaching internships with Cornell College (Iowa) and NCAA Division I Tulane University (La.), where he was the director of basketball operations from 2010-12.
Lewis, a forward on the Cornell College basketball team from 2005-10, was an Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference First Team selection in 2010. He received Cornell College’s 2010 Sportsman of the Year award after averaging 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds. In 2009, Lewis helped the Rams to a 21-7 record and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
A Southeastern High School (Augusta, Ill.) graduate, Lewis earned his bachelor’s degree (2010) in economics and business from Cornell College and his master’s (2013) in business administration from Bethel University (Tenn.).
Lewis, and his fiancée, Gaelyn, live in Appleton.
Lewis is just the fifth UW-Oshkosh head men’s basketball coach since the 1964-65 season and the 14th overall. The previous four UW-Oshkosh head coaches were Pat Juckem from 2013-18 (95-73 record), Ted Van Dellen from 1991-2012 (358-225), Jim McGrath from 1985-90 (78-83) and Bob White from 1965-84 (232-266).