At 76, Ray Meyer remains ``Coach'' to DePaul fans

March 16, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

DAYTON, Ohio -- He carries such titles as the special assistant to the president, in which he serves as university ambassador at DePaul. He also carries a press pass these days as the color commentator for WGN radio, which broadcasts DePaul basketball games.

But to those who know and love him, he's still just referred to as Coach. And much like Magic, Michael and Bird, no second name is really needed. "Coach" is something that Ray Meyer will always be.

At the age of 76, Meyer is a living legend. As he walks around the Dayton Arena, several old-timers often come up just to shake his hand. Children who weren't even born by the time Meyer had coached his final game come up to ask for his autograph.

He graciously obliges, then slowly moves on to another group of well-wishers who want to chat and reminisce with the Coach.

It hardly seems as if been seven years since Meyer stepped down from his head coaching post at DePaul. But after the 1983-84 season, Meyer handed the position over to his son, Joey, who had spent the previous 16 seasons with his father as a player and then as an assistant coach.

"No, it really hasn't seemed long," Ray Meyer said Friday. "The time has gone by fast. But I still get to travel around with the team and eat with the team. I also broadcast the games. So, I'm really still a part of it."

Indeed, Ray Meyer was, and still is, a very big part of not only DePaul, but of the game of basketball itself. He won 724 games during his 42-year coaching career -- all at DePaul -- which places him fifth all-time among NCAA Division I coaches.

He had 37 winning seasons and a dozen 20-win seasons. Naturally, he's a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

But for all of his outstanding accomplishments, it's the losses that often stand out in Ray Meyer's mind when he reflects back. He says the heartbreaking loss to St. Joseph's (Pa.) in the 1981 NCAA tournament, also in the Dayton Arena, is the one that sticks out the most.

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