MNU news

Coach Lamar To Retire After 2021-2022 Basketball Season

Coach Rocky Lamar with ref at basketball game
University News

Today MidAmerica Nazarene University and Pioneer Athletics announced the retirement of Rocky Lamar as head coach of MNU men's basketball at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. President David Spittal expressed gratitude for a beloved icon of the Pioneer community.

"I am deeply grateful for Rocky's years of dedicated service and his commitment to the Lord, his family, and the athletes who have played under his leadership and influence," Spittal said.

Lamar has served as head coach since 1986. He was a fierce competitor as an MNU student-athlete, and throughout 36 coaching seasons, has collected 788 wins. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2014 and is the active NAIA national leader in wins. 

“I will have more to say in the coming days,” said Lamar. “But for now, I just want to say that it has been one of the great joys of my life to serve at MidAmerica Nazarene. To me, it is the greatest institution in the world. There’s no better place to work. It’s never felt like a job. And I have loved my time here.”

In addition to coaching duties, Lamar also previously served MNU as director of athletics and adjunct faculty for physical education. 
Lamar has coached 36 NAIA All-America honorees. He has been named Conference Coach of the Year seven times (89-90, 91-92, 95-96, 99-00, 06-07, 11-12, and 15-16). He was named NAIA & KBCA Coach of the Year for the 2006-07 season, and KBCA Coach of the Year for the 2008-09 season. The Pioneers have won 13 conference championships and have been to the NAIA national tournament 19 times. They finished second in the NCCAA National Tournament in 1996-97 & 1997-98. MNU basketball reached the NAIA final four in 2001 (runner-up), 2006, 2007 (National Champions), 2008, 2009, 2014, and 2016.

Lamar's career can be summarized as an investment in young people. His energy, warmth, and excellent instruction created thousands of lifetime relationships. 

Director of Athletics Todd Garrett said Lamar's commitment to the “Pioneering Spirit” has permeated the MNU campus and will be lived out by the many basketball alumni and coworkers he has influenced.  

"Rocky's competitive drive and pursuit of championships will only be overshadowed by his desire for young men to develop a championship relationship with Christ," Garrett said.

In addition to his work at MNU, each summer Lamar holds the Rocky Lamar Fundamentally Driven Basketball Camp, where thousands of young people have learned the basics of basketball. Along the way, Lamar provides an example of his Christian faith to campers. His wife Dr. Jo Lamar has contributed much to the university and to the camp. 

"Jo has served as 'assistant coach' for these 36 years, and we are grateful for her talents and skills as 'mama' to hundreds of student-athletes off the court,” Garrett said.

Spittal says the MNU family congratulates Coach Lamar on his outstanding career and looks forward to celebrating his exemplary service early next year.

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