Men’s Basketball coach Ric Wesley steps down


GVL / Lauren Seymour

Holly Bihlman, Sports Editor

After 18 seasons as the head coach of the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team, Ric Wesley released a statement on March 7 announcing the end of his coaching career at GVSU. As the Lakers wrapped up this season with a loss against Saginaw Valley State University 58-70 in the quarterfinals of the GLIAC Tournament on March 2, Wesley’s last season ended with an overall record of 17-11.

“It’s always hard to leave places you love but now seems like the right time for new energy and enthusiasm to direct our program,” Wesley said in his statement.

As assistant coach Taylor Johnson steps in as interim head coach for the time being, Wesley’s career has left an incredible mark on the history of GVSU basketball, starting with an overall career record of 356-170 — the second-best in program history.

Notching three GLIAC regular-season championships, three GLIAC conference wins and five GLIAC championships, Wesley brought a great deal of success to the program after his 23-year stint as a DI assistant coach.

Starting out at Central Michigan University for his first coaching job, Wesley served as a student assistant coach for his four years at CMU, followed by coaching positions at Iowa State, Lamar University and Missouri State. When Wesley arrived to GVSU in 2004, it was his first head coach title.

During his years here, he managed a program-best 36-1 record in 2007-08, that being just one of six seasons in which the Lakers won 20 plus games per season. Between 2005-10, Wesley led his teams to 135 wins for the best five-year stretch in program history, adding up to six total NCAA Tournament appearances.

“It’s difficult to express the love, respect and gratitude I feel toward the many players, student-assistants and coaches who have been on this journey with me,” Wesley said. “The many young men that have come through our program have represented our university in a first-class manner. Their efforts while here and the contributions they’re now making as husbands, fathers and leaders in their communities gives me a great sense of pride.”

Taking 37 student-athletes to All-GLIAC honors, 18 to All-GLIAC First Team, and three All-American players, what remains of Wesley’s tenure at GVSU lives on in the many Lakers that he coached. Callistus Eziukwu, Jason Jamerson and current senior Jake Van Tubbergen were all All-American Lakers, two of which had been inducted into the GVSU Hall of Fame not including Van Tubbergen.

“Under his leadership, I watched him share a deep love for his players beyond the game of basketball,” said Director of Athletics Keri Becker in a press release. “He was a great teacher of the game, committed to making them better at the skills of basketball, while also ensuring they had a great student-athlete experience and ultimately graduated. He built a culture around relationships and family and created connections with his student-athletes that will last a lifetime.”

All in all, Wesley’s impact on not only the program, but the lives of each player that had the chance to work with him leaves big shoes to fill for the next head coach of the men’s basketball program.

While Becker and the rest of the GVSU Athletics Department look to do just that, Wesley’s plans for the next chapter in his life have begun as he bids farewell to the Lakers.