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Clarksville, TN – An era of unprecedented success at Austin Peay came to a close this morning.
After 27 years on the sidelines, Dave Loos has called it a career as Austin Peay men’s basketball coach, bringing to an end a tenure marked by integrity, ingenuity and achievement.
“The takeaway for me today is how proud I am of the things we accomplished,” Loos said during Monday’s press conference. “The thing I’m celebrating is that we helped make a lot of young people better. We helped them better themselves in the classroom. The game-changer is a college degree, and that’s the thing we really emphasized—getting the diploma and growing as a person.”
Austin Peay Men’s Basketball coach Dave Loos officially announces retirement during Monday press conference at the Dunn Center. (APSU Sports Information)
“Hundreds of kids are out there, all over the world, spreading the word about Austin Peay. They’re going to do alright because they managed to get that game-changer. And that’s what I’m most proud of. It was an honor and privilege to represent Austin Peay and I tried to do it with as much integrity as I could put together.”
The credentials for “The Dean of Ohio Valley Conference Coaches” are unparalleled. Not only has he all but put the league wins record out of reach—amassing 421 wins during his time in the OVC—and not only is he the only five-time Coach of the Year award winner in league history, the last of his four OVC Tournament championships in 2016 equaled the legendary E.A. Diddle for most in league history.
In 2017, he carved out his latest slice of history with his 500th career victory as a collegiate head coach, becoming just the 97th coach with at least 10 years Division I experience to reach that milestone.
A member of five Halls of Fame—St. Louis Amateur Baseball, University of Memphis M-Club, Missouri Basketball Coaches, Austin Peay and Christian Brothers University—Loos’ name has become synonymous with not only success but APSU athletics as a whole. The Dave Loos Scholarship Fund was established in 2010 for prospective coaches and in 2007, the very floor that Monday’s ceremony was held on was rechristened Dave Loos Court at the behest of outgoing President Dr. Sherry Hoppe.
Loos came to Clarksville on July 14, 1990 and, although success was not evident overnight, he began to slowly build back Austin Peay into the power it had been during the Lake Kelly era. Following four seasons under Larry Finch at Memphis, Loos engineered a five-win improvement in his first season at the helm, earning the first of five Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors in the process.
During the Loos era, the head coach showed a knack for keeping talented local players at home—Charles “Bubba” Wells, Trenton Hassell and Drake Reed each won OVC Player of the Year under Loos’ watch, with the latter two Clarksville natives and Wells a 45-minute drive from his native Russellville.
With Wells and Jermaine Savage anchoring the squad in 1996, the Govs won seven of their final eight in the regular season, posted 20-point victories over Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee State before breaking through with a thrilling 70-68 win against rival Murray State—on two Reggie Crenshaw free throws with 0.2 seconds left—for the first of four OVC Tournament titles during Loos’ tenure.
The following season, with Wells sidelined for much of the early going with a leg stress fracture, Loos’ charges were able to hold things together until their star returned, then put together a 12-6 OVC mark to bring the first of five OVC regular-season titles accumulated during Loos’ time on the sideline back to Clarksville.
After losing Wells, a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks in 1997, Loos secured the next wave of Governor greats in 1998 with the arrival of Hassell and Nick Stapleton. Together, the duo combined for nearly 3,700 points during their time in Clarksville, leading Austin Peay to its first 20-win season under Loos in 2000-01; Hassell, who landed on the map with back-to-back first-team All-OVC honors as a freshman and sophomore, would garner enough NBA interest following his OVC Player of the Year campaign as a junior and be picked in the second round by the Chicago Bulls in the 2001 draft.
Although Wells and Hassell received scores of individual plaudits, the best Loos teams were hallmarked by tenacious defense. Never was that more evident than the back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04, where the Governors—led by a core of players including APSU Athletic Hall of Famer Adrian Henning and 1,000-point scorers Anthony Davis, Maurice Hampton and Zac Schlader—took back-to-back regular-season championships and a tournament title in 2003, thanks to center Josh Lewis’ game-saving block against Murray State in the OVC Tournament semifinals and a 63-57 win against Tennessee Tech to take the title.
The Govs followed that up with one of the most dominant regular-season performances in Ohio Valley Conference history. Holding opponents to a program-record 60.5 ppg and 41.1 percent shooting, the Govs marched through the Ohio Valley Conference 16-0—one of two unbeaten regular seasons in the OVC since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1996. Despite only Henning and Davis averaging double figures, the Govs reeled off an impressive season and a 13-0 record in the Dunn Center, culminating in a second-round run in the NIT.
2005-06 saw the Govs begin a stretch of six straight seasons with 10 or more wins in conference play, including a regular-season championship in 2006-07 that saw Reed earn his OVC Player of the Year honor and Loos earn his final OVC Coach of the Year accolade. It also began a stretch of three straight seasons that saw the Govs advance to the OVC Championship game, losing on a heartbreaking last-second shot to Eastern Kentucky in Nashville.
Austin Peay broke through again in 2008, posting 24 wins—most in a single-season during the Loos era—and thrashing Tennessee State 82-64 in the OVC title game, which remains the largest margin of victory in the title contest since the turn of the century. Not only did Reed earn the second of three first-team All-OVC honors, Derek Wright earned all-conference and all-tournament honors.
The arrival of Chris Horton in 2012—the fourth and final OVC Freshman of the Year winner under Loos—touched off a new era of Austin Peay hoops. A rim protector by trade, Horton would shatter Lewis’ single-season and career blocks records, concluding his career in fine style by taking Austin Peay on the most improbable of runs in the 2016 OVC Tournament. Horton led the Govs to four wins in four days, enabling Austin Peay to become the first eighth-seeded squad to bring home the tournament championship in OVC history.
And one can’t forget that Loos’ coaching career tells but half the story of his Austin Peay service. For 16 years, he pulled double duty in two of the most demanding jobs in college sports—head men’s basketball coach and athletics director. During his time as head of the department, Loos ushered women’s soccer onto campus, brought back women’s golf and scholarship football and oversaw not only facility improvements, including plans for the new football stadium, but hanging of OVC Academic Banners in 2002-03 and 2008-09.
In thanking Loos for his service, athletics director Ryan Ivey pointed out what all in the crowd knew—that at Austin Peay, a legend like Dave Loos is simply irreplaceable.
“All of us owe him a debt of gratitude for his willingness to serve this department and institution, when, quite frankly, he didn’t have to. His ability and willingness to put others ahead of himself, his work ethic, dedication, loyalty and integrity are bedrocks of this department, and values that will continue long after us all.”
A national search will get underway immediately for the next leader of the Austin Peay men’s basketball program.
About APSU Sports Information
Austin Peay State University Sports Information provides the latest news and updates on the Athletic endeavors of the student-athletes at APSU. Under the direction of Brad Kirtley, the APSU SID’s office consists of Cody Bush, and Colby Wilson. To contact the APSU Sports Information office, contact, 931.221.7561.