Former NCAA Div. I men’s basketball coach Dave Bliss will be the banquet speaker for the 2015 NCCAA Basketball National Championships, hosted by Grace College, Winona Lake, Ind.
Bliss, who was the head men’s coach at DI schools such as Oklahoma, SMU, New Mexico and Baylor, will be the keynote speaker at the banquet on Tuesday, March 17. The banquet, held at Warsaw Community Church, starts at 6:30 p.m. Limited tickets for the public are available for $20 or $150 for a table of eight people. Contact Grace’s athletic office at (574) 372-5100 ext. 6266 to reserve your ticket.
“It’s exciting to have someone of this magnitude speak at the NCCAA National Championships,” said Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe. “Dave brings tremendous experience coaching on the national stage, and I’m excited to have Dave share his lessons of faith and life story with the coaches, teams and community.”
Bliss started his coaching career at Army under legendary coach Bob Knight in 1967. He moved on to assist his alma mater Cornell in 1969. When Knight accepted the position at Indiana University, he selected Bliss as one of his first assistants with the Hoosiers.
Bliss helped Knight build the Hoosiers into one of the top basketball programs in the country, assisting IU from 1971-75.
After helping IU achieve success, he was hired at the University of Oklahoma, becoming the youngest head coach at the time at the age of 31. He stayed with the Sooners until 1980, helping Oklahoma to their first Big 8 Conference championship in 1978. He was named the conference Coach of the Year twice.
He then took over coaching duties at SMU, leading the Mustangs to three NCAA tournaments from 1980-88. He won a Southwest Conference championship and was the conference’s Coach of the Year in 1988. From SMU, he became the coach at New Mexico for 11 years and was the school’s all-time winningest coach. He led the Lobos to multiple NCAA tournaments, but his desire to finish his coaching career at a Christian school led him to accept the job at Baylor.
Bliss helped the Bears start to climb in the competitive Big 12 Conference and won his 500th career game in 2001. He stumbled, however, and admitted to several NCAA violations which led to his resignation. He is scheduled to release an autobiography detailing his experience at Baylor and his redemptive journey. The book was co-written by Grace College graduate Stephen Copeland and is due for release in May.
In the fall of 2008, Bliss desired to start Game Plan Ministries which seeks to inspire others through a message of hope and direction. He shares his story and encourages others to guard their hearts, demonstrating how his life has been shaped through life’s trials and God’s grace and faithfulness.
Bliss currently serves as the Athletic Director, Dean of Students and basketball coach at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. He has led the Rams to four straight Texas Christian Athletic League state championships and is back to doing what he likes best – encouraging young people. Bliss has been married to his wife Claudia for 37 years. They have three children and four great-grandchildren.