Pat Miller, head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater men’s basketball team — who led the program to 10 NCAA national tournament appearances and two national championships — will retire after 22 years at the helm for the Warhawks. Athletic Director Ryan Callahan has announced that current Assistant Coach Jarod Wichser will be the interim head coach for 2023-24.
“Pat will go down as one of the most successful college basketball coaches ever,” said Callahan. “His legacy and impact will be felt in Warhawk athletics forever. I am grateful for my time working with Pat and getting to know his wonderful family. His service to UW-Whitewater is outstanding and he has made our athletics department and the Warhawk family stronger.”
Miller took over the Warhawk men’s basketball program prior to the start of the 2001-02 season and quickly rose through the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III coaching ranks. Leading UW-Whitewater to 20 or more wins in four of his first five seasons, Miller hit the 100-win mark in 2005-06, reaching the milestone faster than anyone in WIAC history. In 2014-15, he was the fastest coach in Division III to hit the 300-win milestone among active coaches. Now after 22 seasons, Miller has compiled a career record of 434-167. His .722 winning percentage is a top 15 mark in Division III history.
In 2011-12, Miller led the Warhawks through an incredible season that culminated in a national title. Coming off of a season that saw the Warhawks make an early exit from the WIAC tournament, Miller helped largely the same cast of players grow and develop as they claimed the regular season crown and garnered hosting rights to start the playoffs. UW-Whitewater rolled through the early games including a 91-62 win over the defending Division III champion St. Thomas in the second round. Cruising all the way to the national championship game, Miller captained his crew to a remarkable comeback from an 18-point deficit for a 63-60 win over Cabrini to secure his first national title as a head coach. Chris Davis was named the Division III Player of the Year while Miller captured Division III Coach of the Year recognition. UWW was 29-4 on the season – a mark that would be matched just two years later.
The 2013-14 season saw another thriller in the finals as Miller and the Warhawks would hoist the trophy once again. With Quardell Young’s last second basket and free throw sealing a 75-73 win over Williams College, Miller had led UWW to its second national title in three seasons and fourth in program history. With the title, Miller, Warhawk men’s basketball and UW-Whitewater in general made NCAA history as the only school in any division of NCAA competition to win national championships in basketball (men’s or women’s) and football in the same year – twice. Miller was again named Division III Coach of the Year.
Miller led the Warhawks through the uncertainty of the pandemic with shortened/canceled seasons, but was faced with an unimaginable test prior to last season. Following the tragic death of Derek Gray, a phenomenal player and member of the Warhawk men’s basketball family, Miller helped the team cope and led UW-Whitewater back to the court in 2022-23. The squad honored their fallen teammate and friend with arguably one of the greatest seasons in Miller’s career. Following an up-and-down regular season campaign, the Warhawks likely needed to win the WIAC Tournament and they were up for the challenge. With Miller at the helm, UWW won three straight including a 92-79 upset of UW-Oshkosh on their home court to claim the league’s automatic bid into NCAA action.
Finding themselves back on the road for the playoffs, Miller and the Warhawks traversed 1,900 miles over a six-game span (dating back to the WIAC Tournament Semifinal in La Crosse), to punch their ticket back to the Final Four. Their incredible journey would end there, but the season still stands as one of the greatest in Miller’s career.
Over his 22 seasons at the head of the men’s basketball program, Miller has led the Warhawks to six WIAC titles and five WIAC Tournament championships. UWW has made 10 NCAA Division III Tournament appearances and won a pair of national titles in three trips to the Final Four.
He has helped guide players to All-WIAC honors more than 65 times including 32 first team honors. Miller coached one national player of the year (Chris Davis, 2012), five WIAC Players of the Year, one WIAC Newcomer of the Year, two Max Sparger Scholar-Athletes, as well as seven All-America honors and numerous All-Region honors.
Miller has garnered numerous accolades during his tenure at the top – he is a four-time WIAC Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year, three-time Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division III College Coach of the Year, two-time D3hoops.com National Coach of the Year, two-time National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III Coach of the Year, Schelde North America/DIII News Coach of the Year and CollegeInsider.com Glenn Robinson Award finalist. In 2019, Miller was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Miller’s storied career at UW-Whitewater began as a student-athlete in the late 1980s. He played three seasons under head coach Dave Vander Meulen and was a co-captain of the team that won a national championship in 1989, the second title in program history up to that point. That year, he was also named the WIAC Max Sparger Scholar-Athlete of the Year. By the end of his three-year playing career as a Warhawk, Miller had written his name in the program record book in multiple categories as one of the best from beyond the arc, shooting .480 from three-point range. In 2006, Miller was inducted into the UW-Whitewater Hall of Fame.
Following his graduation from UWW in 1989, Miller went on to play a season with the Horsens Idrets Club in the Danish Basketball Federation before returning to the states to begin his career in coaching. His first stop was a two-year stint (1991-93) as the boys’ basketball coach at Harvard High School. In 1993, he returned to UW-Whitewater as an assistant coach while also serving as the head coach of the women’s golf program, as well as an instructor in the health, physical education, recreation and coaching department. He led the Warhawk women’s golf team to a pair of WIAC titles (1996-97, 1999-00) during his six-year tenure. Miller was tabbed the league’s Coach of the Year following both championship campaigns.
Wichser — who has been part of the Warhawk men’s basketball program for the last six seasons, including the last four as Miller’s lead assistant — will take over at the helm on August 14.
“I would like to congratulate Coach Miller on having one of the best careers of any college basketball coach at any level,” said Wichser. “While the numbers speak for themselves, Coach Miller has always prided himself on being about people first. The relationships he has forged and the lives he has impacted during his tenure at UW-Whitewater are what truly sets him apart as one of the all-time greats.”