Tom Davis (basketball, born 1938)

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Tom Davis
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1938-12-03) December 3, 1938 (age 78)
Ridgeway, Wisconsin
Playing career
1950s Wisconsin–Platteville
Position(s) Guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1959–? Milledgeville
?–1967 Portage HS
1967–1971 Maryland (asst.)
1971–1977 Lafayette
1977–1982 Boston College
1982–1986 Stanford
1986–1999 Iowa
2003–2007 Drake
Head coaching record
Overall 598–355 (.628)
Accomplishments and honors
Big East regular season championship (1981)
AP Coach of the Year (1987)

Thomas "Dr. Tom" Davis (born December 3, 1938) is an American former college men's basketball coach.[1] He served as the head coach at Lafayette College, Boston College, Stanford University, the University of Iowa, and Drake University from 1971 to 2007.[1]

Early life[edit]

A native of Ridgeway, Wisconsin, Davis attended the University of Wisconsin–Platteville, where he played on the basketball team as a point guard. He was interested in politics, and between his junior and senior years of college, held a congressional internship for Wisconsin state senator Alexander Wiley.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

After graduating from UW–Platteville, at the age of 21, Davis took over as head coach in Milledgeville, Illinois. He attempted to mimic the martinet coaching style of his own college mentor, John Barth, but concluded that "You have to be yourself. What works for someone else isn't going to work for you just because it worked for him."[2]

Davis then became head coach at Portage High School in Portage, Wisconsin. While there, he faced a dilemma in allotting playing time to his players, most of whom he believed were good enough to warrant it. Davis awarded playing time to all deserving players, which gave rise to his philosophy of constantly pressing and rotating players in an effort to wear down the opposing team.[2]

Davis earned a master's degree from University of Wisconsin. In 1967, Frank Fellows took over as head coach at the University of Maryland, and hired Davis onto his staff.[3] While serving as an assistant at Maryland, Davis earned his doctorate in history.[2]

Lafayette College[edit]

Davis began his coaching career at Lafayette College in 1971. During his six-year tenure at the school, he posted a 116-44 record,[1] advancing to the NIT in 1972 and 1975. Future Maryland head coach Gary Williams, who had played as a point guard under Davis at Maryland, served as one of his assistants at Lafayette.[3]

Boston College[edit]

In 1977, Davis became the head coach at Boston College. The Eagles compiled a 100-47 record earning two trips to the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the NIT.

Stanford & Iowa[edit]

He would accept a position at Stanford University before taking over as the head coach at the University of Iowa in 1986. While at Iowa, he led the Hawkeyes to nine NCAA Tournaments, including a pair of Sweet Sixteen appearances as well as an Elite Eight. The Hawkeyes also made two NIT appearances. He is the winningest coach in the University of Iowa history.

His team was ranked number one during the 1986-87 season. The Hawkeyes won a school record thirty games before eventually being beaten in the Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament by UNLV 84-81. Following the 1998-99 season, Iowa chose not to renew Davis’ contract and he temporarily retired from coaching.

Drake University[edit]

Davis was named Drake University's 23rd head basketball coach on April 22, 2003. In four short seasons, Davis re-energized a Bulldog program that had not had a winning season since the 1985-86 season. He led Drake to a 17-15 record; including winning the Big Four Series, Drake Regency Challenge, and Sun Bowl Tournament.


On March 21, 2007 Davis announced his retirement from college coaching. His son Keno Davis took over as head basketball coach at Drake University.[1] Davis’ career included sixteen 20-win seasons, eighteen post season appearances, and he was named Associated Press National Coach of the Year in 1987. In 2008, he was inducted into the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame for his success as a coach during his tenure there. He currently lives in the Iowa City area with his wife Shari.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Lafayette Leopards (Middle Atlantic/East Coast) (1971–1977)
1971–72 Lafayette 21–6 7–3 T–2nd (Western) NIT 2nd Round
1972–73 Lafayette 16–10 7–3 1st (Western)
1973–74 Lafayette 17–9 7–3 T–2nd (Western)
1974–75 Lafayette 22–6 7–1 1st (Western) NIT 1st Round
1975–76 Lafayette 19–7 9–1 1st (Western)
1976–77 Lafayette 21–6 9–1 1st (West)
Lafayette: 116–44 46–12
Boston College Eagles (Independent/Big East) (1977–1982)
1977–78 Boston College 15–11
1978–79 Boston College 21–9
1979–80 Boston College 19–10 2–4 5th NIT 2nd Round
1980–81 Boston College 23–7 10–4 1st NCAA Sweet 16
1981–82 Boston College 22–10 8–6 4th NCAA Elite Eight
Boston College: 100–47 20–14
Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference) (1982–1986)
1982–83 Stanford 14–14 6–12 8th
1983–84 Stanford 19–12 8–10 T-5th
1984–85 Stanford 11–17 3–15 10th
1985–86 Stanford 14–16 8–10 T-8th
Stanford: 58–59 25–47
Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1986–1999)
1986–87 Iowa 30–5 14–4 3rd NCAA Elite Eight
1987–88 Iowa 24–10 12–6 3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1988–89 Iowa 23–10 10–8 4th NCAA 2nd Round
1989–90 Iowa 12–16 4–14 T-8th
1990–91 Iowa 21–11 9–9 T-5th NCAA 2nd Round
1991–92 Iowa 19–11 10–8 5th NCAA 2nd Round
1992–93 Iowa 23–9 11–7 T-3rd NCAA 2nd Round
1993–94 Iowa 11–16 5–13 T-9th
1994–95 Iowa 21–12 9–9 T-7th NIT 3rd Round
1995–96 Iowa 23–9 11–7 4th NCAA 2nd Round
1996–97 Iowa 22–10 12–6 T-2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1997–98 Iowa 20–11 9–7 T-5th NIT 1st Round
1998–99 Iowa 20–10 9–7 T-3rd NCAA Sweet 16
Iowa: 269–140 125–105
Drake Bulldogs (Missouri Valley Conference) (2003–2007)
2003–04 Drake 12–16 7–11 T–6th
2004–05 Drake 13–16 7–11 7th
2005–06 Drake 12–19 5–13 T–7th
2006–07 Drake 17–15 6–12 T–7th
Drake: 54–66 25–47
Total: 598-355

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Notable players coached[edit]