April 1, 2009
Former Northwest basketball player Ben McCollum was introduced in a news conference Tuesday as the new head men's basketball coach of the Bearcats.
McCollum will become the 20th head coach in the 95-year history of Northwest men's basketball. He replaces Steve Tappmeyer who announced his retirement last month following 21 years of service.
"I identified Coach McCollum as a candidate for our position early in our process," said Northwest Director of Athletics Dr. Bob Boerigter. "He impressed us at every step in this process and I'm convinced that he is indeed the right person to lead our program. The fact that Coach McCollum played here and is one of our many successful alumni was an extra bonus. I'm looking forward to working with him as he continues the fine tradition of Bearcat basketball."
McCollum, a 2003 graduate of Northwest, played for Tappmeyer during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. The Bearcats were 51-12 spanning those two seasons, including a 29-3 mark during the 2001-02 campaign that culminated with the program's first Elite Eight appearance.
McCollum worked as a graduate assistant the following two years and helped lead the Bearcats back to the Elite Eight in 2004 when the team finished 29-5. He was then hired as an assistant coach at Emporia State University where he's served the last four seasons.
McCollum supervised academics at Emporia State and the Hornets' men's basketball team earned the highest male grade point average in two of his four years. Emporia State qualified for the 2007 NCAA tournament and was nationally-ranked at one point in each of the four seasons McCollum was on staff.
A native of Storm Lake, Iowa, McCollum began his college career at North Iowa Area Community College where he was a two-time all-region performer before transferring to Northwest.
McCollum earned his bachelor's degree in finance before earning a master's degree in athletic administration. He and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of a son, Peyton.
Northwest finished 12-15 this past season - its first year with a win percentage below .630 since 1997. In the last 10 seasons, the Bearcats have qualified for eight NCAA tournaments, won three MIAA tournament titles (2002, 2004, 2008) and captured two MIAA regular season crowns (2002, 2007).