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Head Coach

Ben McCollum

Ben McCollum
Head Coach

  • Named head coach prior to the 2009-10 season (9th season)
  • Career record of 176-71 (110-49 MIAA)
  • 2017 NABC and DII Bulletin Coach of the Year
  • Five MIAA Regular Season Titles (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Two MIAA Tournament Titles (2016, 2017)
  • 13-4 NCAA Playoff Record (2017 NCAA National Champions)
  • Four -Time MIAA Coach of the Year (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • 2012 Clarence "Big House" Gaines National Coach of the Year

No stranger to Northwest Missouri State or hard work, Ben McCollum has helped return that mentality back into Bearcat men’s basketball. McCollum was tabbed the 20th head coach in Northwest men’s basketball history prior to the start of the 2009-10 season.

McCollum's Bearcats broke through in 2016-17, winning the program's first NCAA national championship in front of 3,250 fans against Fairmont State, 71-61, in Sioux Falls, S.D. Northwest capped a 35-1 season, winning MIAA regular season and tournament titles. Justin PItts won his second-straight MIAA Player of the Year award and the Bearcats set a conference record for victories. McCollum was named the NABC Coach of the Year and was joined by National Player of the YEar Pitts at the NCAA Final Four.

The Bearcats captured the program's third-straight MIAA regular season title in 2015-16, going 27-6. Northwest won the MIAA Tournament for the first time under McCollum and advanced to the NCAA's Regional Championship game for the third consecutive year. Pitts was named MIAA Player of the Year, averaging 21.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

McCollum's Bearcats accomplished something in 2014-15 that no Northwest team had achieved since 1986-87. An outright MIAA regular season title after going 15-4 in conference action and 25-7 overall, marking a fourth-straight 20+win season. To cap it off, Northwest entered the NCAA Regional Championship tournament as a No. 4 seed and knocked off No. 5 Minnesota State (59-56) and host and No. 1 seed Augustana (66-65) to make a second-consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16. Pitts was tabbed a First Team All-MIAA performer and earned MIAA Freshman of the Year accolades. Matt Wallace was named the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year. McCollum won his 100th career game with an 83-59 victory over Northeastern State on Jan. 5, 2015, in Tahlequah, Okla.

The 2013-14 Bearcats reached the NCAA Sweet 16, going 24-9 overall. The regular-season MIAA co-champions went 16-3 in conference play to earn McCollum his second MIAA title. It was also the team’s third consecutive 20-plus win season, a feat that had not been accomplished since the 2007-08 season, prior to McCollum’s arrival. DeShaun Cooper was named the MIAA Player of the Year and was an All-America honoree by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

His teams led the league in defense in 2011-12 and 2012-13 and finished as one of the top defensive units in the nation. Northwest advanced to the MIAA Tournament Championship game in 2013 knocking of top seed Fort Hays State before falling in overtime of a thrilling championship game to Central Missouri.

In 2011-12, the Bearcats captured its 12th MIAA regular season championship in after finishing 15-5. Northwest also earned a berth in the NCAA tournament where the Bearcats fell in the first round, completing a 22-7 season. McCollum was named MIAA Coach of the Year and the Clarence “Big House” Gaines National Coach of the Year along with three Bearcats earning All-MIAA accolades.

The Bearcats showed improvement in McCollum’s second season in 2010-11, despite a 10-16 overall record. Northwest finished the season by winning six of the year’s final nine games. During his first season, McCollum was the second-youngest active head coach in NCAA Division II as the team finished 12-15 and one win shy of qualifying for the MIAA tournament.

Assistant Coach

Before returning to Northwest, McCollum served four years as an assistant coach under David Moe at Emporia State.

McCollum got his start in college coaching as a graduate assistant at Northwest under head coach Steve Tappmeyer, who he would eventually replace. During his two seasons as a graduate assistant, Northwest went 58-8 and returned to the Elite Eight for the second time in program history.


As a player, McCollum helped lead the Bearcats to a 51-12 record, including a 29-3 mark during the 2001-02 campaign that culminated with the first Elite Eight appearance in Northwest history. It also marked the first time the Bearcats swept the MIAA regular season and tournament titles as they lost a heartbreaker to Southern Indiana in the Elite Eight.

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, both from Northwest. He and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of two sons, Peyton and Tate, and a daughter, Grace Ann.