Le Moyne College Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Matt Bassett announced on Wednesday afternoon the hiring of Nate Champion ’14 as the ninth head men’s basketball coach in program history. Champion replaces Patrick Beilein, who resigned in late March to accept the head coach position at Niagara University.
“We had a very deep, diverse, and immensely-talented pool of more than 90 candidates to sort through and I am so grateful to the committee for their hard work, and the deliberations that produced the ideal candidate in Coach Champion,” said Bassett. “When Nate Champion left our campus over five years ago with the intentions of becoming a coach, I think the overall consensus in our building was that ‘this young man is going to be a great head coach for somebody, someday’. Fortunately, that somebody is us, and that someday is now!”
“I would like to thank President LeMura, Matt Bassett and the search committee for trusting me to be the next men’s basketball coach at Le Moyne College,” said Champion. “I loved my time as a student-athlete at Le Moyne and look forward to coaching at a place I consider home. I cannot wait to meet the players as we look to continue the success that Coach Beilein had at Le Moyne.”
“Coach Champion’s familiarity with our campus, our rigorous academic climate, our program, our players and our culture were clearly differentiating factors in his candidacy,” added Bassett. “It is such a joyful and prideful experience for our campus and surrounding community to bring home one of our own.”
A native of Logansport, Indiana, Champion returns to the Heights after serving the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. In this role, Champion was responsible for recruiting, player development and preparing pre-game scouting reports. Champion was involved with the recruitment of 2017 transfer Jonathan Lawton and the four members of the 2018-19 freshman class. In working with Champion, Lawton increased his scoring output from 13.7 points per game in two years at St. Thomas Aquinas College to averaging 22.3 points per game at Florida Southern, while earning NABC and D2CCA All-America recognition and D2CCA South Region Player of the Year and Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year honors as a senior. In Champion’s first season at Florida Southern, the Moccasins went 21-11, averaged 88.4 points per game (eighth-best in the nation) and upset top-seeded Morehouse in the first round of the NCAA South Regional to advance to the semifinals. In 2018-19, Florida Southern went 25-8, won the Sunshine State Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA South Region semifinals for the second straight year.
Prior to his time at Florida Southern, he spent one year as a volunteer assistant at NE10-foe Stonehill College. The 2016-17 Skyhawks went 15-12 and featured an NABC all-district and first-team all-conference selection and two all-rookie team members.
Champion got his coaching career started as a graduate assistant coach for the Dolphins in the Fall 2014 semester before embarking on a professional player career with the Ringwood Hawks of the Australia-State League. The Dolphins were 10-3 in the 13 games Champion was on the sideline.
In his second season playing for the Hawks, he was named Co-MVP of the league and then earned championships series MVP honors.
In his 100-game career as a Dolphin, Champion made 93 starts and recorded 1258 points, 468 assists, 391 rebounds and 127 steals. He is one of just three players (Len Rauch ’91 and Qwadere Lovell ’16 are the others) in the program’s history (second at the time) to record at least 1150 points, 350 assists and 350 rebounds. He ranks third in the program’s history in minutes per game (34.4), sixth in assists average (4.7), seventh in assists and minutes played (3444), ninth in free throw percentage (.802), 10th in games started, 12th in steals (127) 14th in three-pointers made (131), 15th in defensive rebounds (345) and 19th in points.
As a senior in 2013-14, he led the Dolphins to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 17 years and was named to the Northeast-10 Conference All-Conference Third Team and was selected as Le Moyne’s Male Athlete of the Year after averaging 16.3 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per games in a program-record 1132 minutes. He ranked second in all of Division II in minutes per game at 39.03, while he was third in the NE10 in assists (163), fourth in free throw percentage (86.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5), seventh in steals (43) and 11th in scoring average. He was one of only two players in the conference to average at least 16 points, five assists and four rebounds per game. He scored in double-digits in 26 of the team’s 29 games, while he tallied at least 20 points on nine occasions. On November 23 at The College of Saint Rose, he registered a career-high 35 points in a one-point overtime loss. His 35 points were the most by a Dolphin since All-American Laurence Ekperigin ’10 registered 36 against Adelphi University on February 6, 2010.
Champion is a 2014 graduate of Le Moyne with a degree in business management and leadership.
Story Courtesy: Craig Lane, Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Information