OFFICIAL: Schafer named Head Basketball Coach at D3 Augustana

Following up on last night’s report…the hiring of BenU Mesa’s Steve Schafer at Augustana is now official. Here’s the release from the school:

Steve Schafer, a 2001 graduate from Augustana, has been tabbed to become the 16th head men’s basketball coach in Viking history, it was announced today. Schafer will replace Grey Giovanine, who retired on May 5 of this year after compiling a record of 433-150 in 21 seasons.

“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. Their leadership, vision and support for Augustana College and the athletics department is undeniable,” said Schafer, who was actually recruited to Augustana by Steve Yount, the coach who preceded Giovanine, in 1997. “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. 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 and 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, Arizona. He had the unique challenge of actually starting Benedictine-Mesa’s athletic program from scratch in 2014 when he was hired. He started his task in April of 2014 and 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 Augustana Director of Athletics Mike 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.”

This past winter Schafer guided the Redhawks to a 14-15 overall record and a 6-8 mark in the California-Pacific Conference. In five years at the helm of the Redhawks, Schafer put together an overall record of 76-69 and a league mark of 30-27. Benedictine-Mesa qualified for the California-Pacific Tournament twice in the first four years and Schafer has helped guide eleven different players to the All-Cal Pac team, including Newcomer of the Year Monnard Brown in 2016-17. The Redhawks best season to date came in 2018-19 when the team broke the school record for most wins in a season with 18.  In 2016-17, they finished as Regular Season Co-Champions in the Cal Pac, finishing with an 11-3 record.

The athletics department at Benedictine-Mesa enjoyed great success in its first five years of intercollegiate athletics under Schafer. Going from a program that was just a vision when he was hired in 2014, the Redhawks can point to 114 all-conference players, 14 NAIA All-Americans, three conference team championships and one NAIA team national championship prior to the 2019-20 school year. In addition, there have been 60 NAIA Daktronics Scholar-Athletes and Redhawk athletes have compiled over 1,000 hours of community service. The Benedictine athletics department also hosted several conference tournaments and played host to the 2019 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship and were scheduled to host the 2020 tournament also.

Prior to starting the athletics program at Benedictine-Mesa, Schafer was the head men’s basketball coach at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri. He improved the Griffins’ victory total each of his three seasons at the helm.

He also spent two years as the assistant men’s basketball coach/athletic recruiting coordinator at the Benedictine campus in Lisle, Illinois from 2009-11. He was also the assistant coach at North Park (2004-09) and Wayne State (2001-04).

He graduated from Augustana in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in speech communications and he has a Master’s of Science in Education from Wayne State (Nebraska) with an emphasis on sports management.

A native of Batavia, Illinois, Schafer was a member of the Augustana men’s basketball team from 1997 through 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. A tremendous player at Batavia, he was a three-year varsity player who helped the Bulldogs compile a 68-18 overall record. Twice he was a first-team all-conference performer and was named to the all-area team in the Tri-Cities.

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.

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