In July of last year, Utah Valley University accomplished something significant that
pretty much went unnoticed by the national media. After seven years, the school
completed its provisional status and made the move from NJCAA into NCAA Division I.
Think about that for a second. Seven years ago, this wasn't even a four-year
institution. Now, the school's athletic teams compete against the best that the
college sports world has to offer.
Stewardship of the men's basketball program through this period has been the
responsibility of Dick Hunsaker, a coaching veteran who has now come full circle in
Back in 1990, Hunsaker led Ball State into the NCAA Tournament as a 12th seed. His
squad would go on one of the more memorable runs of the last 25 years, taking out a
Gary Payton-led Oregon State team and a 4th seeded Louisville team before losing by
two points to eventual national champion UNLV in the Sweet Sixteen.
He finished his tenure at Ball State with a 97-33 record before making the move into
the CBA and eventually back into the Division I ranks as an assistant to Rick
Majerus at Utah. He was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year in 2001 after
serving as interim head coach during Marjerus' absence.
His next move was over to Orem to take over at Utah Valley in the school's final
season in the NJCAA ranks. In many ways, he was the perfect choice for the job.
"I think my background and the variety of experiences I've had have been a real
advantage in helping this program be more adaptable," Hunsaker said recently when
asked about the school's transition. "It's been a very fun adventure."
Hunsaker coached arguably the school's greatest athlete in the person of current
rebounds. In his last two years, which count in UVU's NCAA record books, he ranks
first in career scoring average at an impressive 22.2 ppg.
Coming into this season, Hunsaker has fashioned an impressive 136-68 record at UVU
that included a 17-11 mark last year. But with the loss of guards Ryan Toolson and
Josh Olsen, Utah Valley was lacking a little firepower coming into this inaugural
Great West campaign. The Wolverines currently sit at 4-6 in the league and 11-15
While the Wolverines are currently a little off the pace in the league, there's
still a great deal left to play for. That's because the school gets the nice
advantage of hosting the Great West Tournament next month.
The fact that UVU will be playing host to the league's first tournament is a great
source of pride for Hunsaker. "I'm excited about the efforts and the tremendous
amount of work that the Utah Valley University community's put into hosting this
event," he said.
A win in that tournament would garner the Wolverines a postseason pass in the form
of a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. For a league in its infancy, the
importance of such a reward is not lost on Hunsaker.
"It's a wonderful incentive," he said. "I think I can speak for every member of the
Great West in saying that we couldn't be happier in having this association with
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