DWU head men's basketball coach Matt Wilber accepts position with WNBA Phoenix Mercury

DWU head men’s basketball coach Matt Wilber announced Tuesday that he has accepted a new position with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury.

Mitchell, S.D. – Dakota Wesleyan University head men’s basketball coach Matt Wilber announced Tuesday that he has accepted a new position with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury coaching staff and will step down from the men’s basketball head coach position effective March 31.

Coach Wilber has held the head coaching position at Dakota Wesleyan University for the past 11 seasons, the third longest coaching stint in men’s basketball history at DWU, finishing with an overall record of 224-115. Wilber has made six appearances at NAIA national tournaments with a record of 7-5 in tournament play, achieving a runner-up finish in 2015. During that 2015 season, the Tigers won a share of the GPAC championship with Morningside University and Wilber was named Co-Coach of the Year in the GPAC. The 2015 team finished the season with a record of 32-5, one of the best records at DWU and Wilber’s best season. 2015 was the same year that Jalen Voss was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference Player of the Year, two DWU players were named All-American, and five were named All-GPAC. After coaching the Tigers to the runner-up finish, Wilber and the Tigers went on a five-year streak of winning at least 23 games and finishing fourth or better in conference play.

During his tenure, Wilber has coached 13 All-Americans and 39 All-GPAC performers. Two of Wilber’s athletes, Jalen Voss and Trae Bergh, are members of the DWU Athletics Hall of Fame.

When asked about his time coaching the Tigers, Wilber described his feelings. “It has been a professional dream come true to serve as head coach at DWU for the past 11 seasons. I am forever grateful to Jon and Curt Hart and Amy Novak for hiring me and sticking with me for so many years. This program is defined by the players who have been a part of Wesleyan basketball; they were why I do this work. I cannot be more thankful for their time, effort, and commitment to our program. The lifelong relationships that I will take with me will be my greatest achievement. In this position, we go through everything together and the memories of the successes and struggles are all part of what makes it great.”

“DWU is in a great place with quality leadership from President Dan Kittle to Director of Athletics Ross [Cimpl] and Associate Director of Athletics Jason [Christensen]. The next coach here is going to inherit a locker room filled with high-character young men who are hungry to work and to win. I know that I am leaving our program in a very good place. I feel for our current players and that is the hardest part of it all, but they are tough and resilient and will make the jump. I’m already working on reserving my courtside seats to cheer them on and to make sure the officials can’t get too far away from me!”

Wilber continued, “I have great pride for what our program has accomplished. Standing on the sidelines in the Corn Palace has been a tremendous honor and I am thankful to the community for the support through the years.”

Cimpl had this to say about Wilber and his time here. “Matt and I started at DWU at about the same time. We have been on this journey together at DWU for a very long time. I consider him a tremendous colleague and friend. While I am extremely happy for Coach Wilber, he will be truly missed.”

DWU president Dan Kittle voiced appreciation for Wilber. “Matt has been a tremendous leader and influencer of athletes during his time at DWU. He understands the challenges encountered by student-athletes and helps to guide and mentor them both on the court and off. His legacy at DWU will be felt for a long time. Our entire community wishes him the best in his new position.”

Wilber’s family, spouse Lindsay Wilber and their five children, will remain in Mitchell. Lindsay is currently the head coach of the DWU volleyball team and plans on keeping her position. When asked about being a part of the Mitchell community, Matt Wilber said, “Our family has grown up in Mitchell, and I am fortunate that this next step will allow us to remain in Mitchell. It will take some work, but we have great family and support in place to help. My kids have been blessed to grow up in a house with two athletic programs with the young men and women in our basketball and volleyball programs as role models.”

As he prepares for his next coaching opportunity, Wilber added, “While the move is bittersweet, I am excited about the opportunity and thankful to Coach [Nate] Tibbetts and the Phoenix Mercury for the chance to join a great organization. I am eager to learn and help where I can. There are great people in place in Phoenix in all areas of the Mercury organization, and I am humbled at the opportunity to be a part of it.”

The national search for the next men’s basketball head coach will begin immediately for DWU. Cimpl commented on the current status of the basketball team and how DWU will fill the coaching position: “We feel that our basketball program is in a tremendous position. We are looking forward to bringing in the best possible candidate to build on the success we have had. We are not looking to rebuild or start from scratch. We have some critical pieces already in place with a young roster and will begin our search immediately.”