Creighton University men’s head basketball coach Greg McDermott was named the United States Sports Academy’s 2014 Alumnus of the Year for helping elevate the Bluejays program to the national spotlight in his first three years there.
McDermott, who graduated with his master’s in Sports Management in 1994 from the Academy, guided Creighton to its first NCAA tournament in five years in the 2011-12 season and made it there again this past year reaching the third round both times. He’s the first coach in Creighton history to post 20 or more wins in each of his first three seasons.
“The United States Sports Academy afforded me the opportunity to earn my master’s degree at a time in my life when attending full-time graduate school was not a possibility,” McDermott said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the well-rounded education I received, and the many relationships I developed as a result of the experience.”
McDermott, known as a top recruiter and tactician, is no stranger to success. During his 19 seasons as a college basketball head coach, his teams have made seven trips to the NCAA tournament, including one Sweet 16 appearance. He is 80-30 (.727) in his three seasons leading Creighton and owns a 360-225 (.615) career record.
McDermott, a former 6-foot-8 college center for Northern Iowa, began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of North Dakota in 1989 and earned his first head coaching position in 1994 with Wayne State, a Division II school. He has also coached at North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and Iowa State.
His meteoric rise in the coaching ranks began at his alma mater, Northern Iowa, where he took over a program in 2001 that had failed to post a winning season in four years. Northern Iowa had only made the NCAA tournament once before but McDermott led the Panthers to three straight appearances. He also led the school to its first ever national ranking in 2006.
Now at Creighton, Coach McDermott admits coaching for the Bluejays has been a “wonderful experience.” Not only has the Omaha, Neb., university ranked among the top in the nation in average home attendance but his son, Doug, who’s entering his senior year and who is a two-time first-team All-American, has played for him.
“It is very gratifying to coach Doug and have him be a key contributor on a very good team,” he said. “It has been a wonderful experience for our entire family.”