Tighe named Head Basketball Coach at NAIA Dakota State

Dakota State University has announced the hiring of Darren Tighe as the next men’s basketball head coach.  Director of Athletics Jeff Dittman made the announcement Tuesday.  Tighe will begin his duties immediately.

He will succeed long-time head coach Gary Garner, whose 198 victories is second all-time in DSU men’s basketball program history. Coach Garner retires after 50-plus years of coaching. 

“We are excited to welcome Coach Tighe to the Dakota State University Athletics Department”, said Dittman.  “Darren has a proven record of success in collegiate basketball both on the court and in the classroom.  We look forward to working with him to continue to build on the success of Coach Garner”.

Coach Tighe is no stranger to the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) in which Dakota State is a member.  He was the head coach for Mayville State (N.D.) from May 2017 through last fall.  He finished his coaching career at MSU with a record of 92-42 (.687 winning percentage), which ranked second all-time in career wins and winning percentage at Mayville State.

Most recently, Tighe guided his 2021 Comet men’s basketball team to their first NSAA regular-season title and was selected the league’s Coach-of-the-Year.

During his first four years at Mayville State, Mayville State captured three consecutive North Star Athletic Association postseason tournament titles and advanced to the NAIA Men’s Basketball National Tournament three straight times. 

In his first year at Mayville State in 2017-28, his squad doubled the numbers of wins from the previous year and captured Mayville’s first-ever NSAA conference tournament title.  That team qualified to the national tournament for the first time since 2007.  As a result, Tighe was named the 2018 North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters Sports Writers Coach of the Year.

Tighe guided the Comets to two more NSAA conference tournament titles in 2019 and 2020 and advanced to the national tournaments in both seasons.  Those squads registered back-to-back 20-win seasons.  The 2019-20 team finished with a 24-5 overall mark and an 11-3 North Star record. 

Tighe coached three NAIA Men’s Basketball All-America Honorable Mention athletes, one North Star Athletic Association Player-of-the-Year, and 11 NSAA All-Conference selections (4 First Team athletes, 3 Second Team athletes, and 4 Honorable Mention athletes).

Besides the accomplishments on the basketball court, Tighe’s squads excelled in the classrooms.  During his tenure, Mayville State had a team grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher each year, including an impressive 3.54 GPA in the fall of 2021.

“It is a great honor to be named the next head men’s basketball coach at Dakota State University’, stated Tighe. “My wife Samantha and I and our children Adeline, Eli, and Piper are so excited to join the Dakota State University family and the community of Madison.  I would like to thank President Jose-Marie Griffiths, Director of Athletics Jeff Dittman, and the selection committee comprised of David Moe, Stacy Anderson, Alicia Entringer, and Heidi Hausmann for believing in me and offering our family this opportunity.” 

“Coach Garner is a legend, and I am humbled to follow in his footsteps,” added Tighe.  “We will build a strong foundation of identity and culture here at Dakota State University that our university and community will take great pride in.”

Prior to coaching at Mayville State, Tighe was the head coach at Ridgewater Junior College in Willmar, Minn.  He led Ridgewater to a 48-34 record, including a 20-win regular-season which broke the single-season school record.  He coached a two-time NJCAA Second Team All-American athlete during his tenure at Ridgewater.

Tighe holds a career collegiate coaching record of 140-76 (.648 winning percentage).

Before his collegiate coaching career, Tighe spent time coaching in the high school ranks.  He taught and coached at Redwood Valley High School, where he assisted Redwood Valley to a 47-12 record and two straight sub-section titles in 2013 and 2014 and a section championship in 2013.  He also spent one season as the head boys’ basketball coach at JWP High School in Janesville, Minn. in 2011-12.

Tighe was the associate head men’s basketball coach at NCAA Division III Bethany Lutheran (Minn.) from 2007 through 2011.  He served an integral role in leading the Vikings to a conference tournament championship appearance in 2009.  In addition, Tighe served as the recruiting coordinator, director of player development, video coordinator, defensive coordinator, and point guard coach. 

Tighe received his master’s degree in teaching and bachelor’s degree in English studies from Minnesota State-Mankato.

Story Courtesy: Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director

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