Athletic Director Steve Fritz removed the interim tag Tuesday, April 23, and officially announced that John Tauer will be the 22nd coach of the St. Thomas men’s basketball team.
Athletic director Steve Fritz announces Monday that John Tauer will be the new men's basketball coach. Tauer was the interim head coach last season. (Briggs LeSavage/TommieMedia)
The St. Paul native was appointed interim coach in May 2011 after Fritz retired shortly after the 2010-11 Tommies won the NCAA Division III championship.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Tauer said. “This university and this basketball program are both very special to me. I started attending St. Thomas games with my parents when I was six years old, and now my sons Jack and Adam love attending our games.”
Fritz said that even though the announcement may not come as a surprise, it’s an exciting moment for St. Thomas.
“John’s been deeply involved in this program for over 20 years, and we all look forward to a long tenure with him and leading this program to great things in the future,” Fritz said.
In his interim season, Tauer led the Tommies to a 22-7 record before falling to the eventual national champions Wisconsin-Whitewater in the second round of the NCAA playoffs.
Tauer’s 2011-2012 squad also became the first program in 60 years to win or share seven consecutive MIAC men’s basketball championships. Tauer said he recognizes that there will always be a transition process, but he doesn’t expect sweeping changes.
“Hopefully we grow, and we’re going to be more veteran,” Tauer said. “That was the biggest thing this year, not just me being my first year as a head coach, but most of our players haven’t had significant game experience at this point.”
Junior guard Will DeBerg said he is glad Tauer will be returning to the team and couldn’t imagine the position going to anyone else.
“The best thing is that he’s got a really good relationship with all the players,” DeBerg said. “He’s more than just a basketball coach, he’s a mentor and like a friend sometimes. But we all know him really well, so it won’t be much of a change.”
Tauer graduated from St. Thomas in 1995 with a standout basketball resume and psychology degree. He was inducted into the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and was an All-MIAC player and Academic All-American.
He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received his doctorate in social psychology. After graduating in 2000, he was hired at St. Thomas as a psychology professor and worked as an assistant coach under Fritz for 11 seasons.
In March, Tauer was named to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s “2012 40 Under Forty,” a list that annually celebrates some of the Twin Cities’ top business and civic leaders.
Briggs LeSavage can be reached at email@example.com.