The last time the Rochester men’s basketball team tipped off a season without the familiar 6-foot-7 frame of legendary coach Mike Neer ’88W (MS) at courtside Gerald Ford was president, Rocky was the No. 1 movie, and Paul Simon was singing about “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
Since then, the Yellowjackets have won a national title, made four trips to the Final Four, earned 12 bids to the national championship—including four straight—and won 563 games.
It’s time to reset the record books as Neer, the winningest coach in Rochester’s history—and one of the winningest in all of NCAA Division III—is stepping down at the end of the academic year.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead teams representing the University of Rochester,” Neer said in making the announcement public this spring. “I am proud of our teams’ many accomplishments and of the manner in which we’ve competed. It has been equally gratifying to see our players continue their success in their personal and professional lives. In addition to these players, I want to express my appreciation and thanks to the countless administrators, faculty, and athletics department colleagues with whom I’ve worked since 1976.”
Since Neer took over the Yellowjackets for the 1976–77 season, he has compiled a career record of 563 wins against 326 losses (a 63.3 percent winning ratio). On January 5, 2007, he earned his 500th career coaching victory, a milestone that was marked with a University proclamation presented to Neer by President Joel Seligman, G. Robert Witmer ’59, then the chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, and George VanderZwaag, the director of Athletics and Recreation.
“Mike Neer’s coaching record at Rochester has been truly remarkable,” says Seligman
On and off the court, Rochester players have distinguished themselves through their hard work and achievement. Five of Neer's players earned Academic All-American honors. His alumni have found success in education, law, medicine, business, finance, telecommunications, and coaching.
As a team, the Yellowjackets have been honored four times with the Sam Schoenfeld Award from the western New York chapter of the College Basketball Officials Association. The award is presented annually to a college for outstanding sportsmanship.
“I want to thank Mike for his 34 years of service to the University and our students,” VanderZwaag says. “He is a true coaching legend, and his legacy at Rochester will endure.”