April 5, 2003
By Gary Rubin
Division II Bulletin
In only its fifth season at the Division II level, Northeastern State climbed to the top of the mountain and won its first national basketball title in the program's 67-year history when Larry Gipson's Redmen defeated Ray Harper's Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers 75-64 on March 29.
Northeastern State (32-3) was making its first appearance in the Division II Elite Eight while KWC (31-4) was competing in its sixth straight Division II national title game.
"We're only five years in Division II, and these guys believed from the beginning," said Gipson, who led Northeastern Oklahoma A&M to a National Junior College title in 1989. "Weıre starting our own tradition."
Rand Chappell will still appear in the Gulf South Conference media guide next season, but with another program. After five seasons at Henderson State University, where he guided his teams to four Gulf South Conference Tournament Championships, three GSC West titles and led the team to five NCAA tournament appearances, Chappell accepted the head coaching job at the University of Central Arkansas.
"Rand has a proven track record of winning everywhere he has been," said UCA President Lu Hardin. "I am confident he will lead our men's basketball team back to national prominence. The future of the UCA Bears looks solid and promising."
In 2002-03, Henderson State was 30-5 overall, tying a school record, and reached the South Regional championship game. The Reddies were ranked 15th in the nation in the final NABC/Division II Bulletin Top 25. Chappell's teams also have been almost unbeatable at home with a 57-6 record - 33-3 in GSC home games.
Chappell's overall coaching record is 243-79 which currently ranks in the top five on the NCAA Division II list with a .761 winning percentage. He also ranks as the GSCıs all-time winningest coach with the .750 percentage he compiled at HSU.
Chappell leaves Henderson State on good terms with the athletic department. "He's done tremendous things for the program here at Henderson State," said HSU athletic director Sam Goodwin. "Not only is he an outstanding coach, but he's one of the finest people you would ever get to know."
Chappell succeeds Charles Hervey, who was head basketball coach at UCA from 1999-2003. He was let go in January and assistant coach David James served as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Without wasting too much time, Goodwin announced the promotion of Joe Redmond as Henderson State's new head basketball coach.
Redmond just finished up his third year as the Reddies' top assistant. The 29-year old from Parsons, Kan., began his coaching career as an assistant at Labette Community College in Parsons. From 1997 to 2000, he served as the program's head coach, where he compiled a three-year record of 29-57. His 1999-2000 team advanced to the region tournament for the first time in school history.
"I feel Joe has been a huge factor in our success," said Goodwin. "Not only is he a great coach, but he's a great recruiter. There's no doubt in my mind he'll continue the success."
Longwood College, which is making the four-year transition from Division II to Division I status beginning next season, is looking for a new head coach after announcing that it will not renew Mike Leeders' contract for next year.
Leeder recently completed his fourth year at Longwood, guiding the program to a record of 15-14 overall, 11-9 in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference (CVAC) during 2002-03. He led the Lancers to an overall record of 55-57 during his tenure, including a 38-42 record within the CVAC.
"I'm a little disappointed," Leeder told the Richmond Times Dispatch. "But I've worked with four different athletic directors in four years, and eventually you're going to run across somebody you don't see eye-to-eye with."
Leeder took over at Longwood at the beginning of the 1999-2000 campaign after spending a year as an associate head coach at Kentucky Wesleyan.
Longwood Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto said the programıs move to Division I entered his thinking about the basketball job.
"We're looking for a particular brand of leadership," Mazzuto told the Richmond Times Dispatch. "Recruiting and coaching are part of it, but other variables are important. We want someone who is going to be a community and university leader, a spokesman for Longwood. Fund raising has become an important element to help pay for this move, and it will be a key part of the menıs job, as well as for all our coaches.
"The job has changed and broadened in scope," he continued. "Thatıs the way all Division I jobs seem to be going. Mike's a good guy, and I wish him well."
Mazzuto plans to conduct a national search for a new coach.