Kevin Williamson Named Dakota Wesleyan's 20th Head Men's Basketball Coach In Program History

Dakota Wesleyan University Athletic Director Ross Cimpl has announced the appointment of Kevin Williamson as the new DWU men’s basketball head coach.

Mitchell, S.D. – Dakota Wesleyan University Athletic Director Ross Cimpl has announced the appointment of Kevin Williamson as the new DWU men’s basketball head coach. Williamson, a 2007 graduate of the University of Great Falls, holds a master’s degree from Bemidji State University. He comes to Mitchell from his previous head coaching job at the University of Saint Katherine, a NAIA school located in San Marcos, Calif.

Williamson commented on his new position stating, “I want to thank athletic director Ross Cimpl, President Kittle and coach Christensen for the entire hiring process at DWU. They were extremely thorough, diligent, and welcoming throughout the entire process. I felt extremely comfortable on the visit with everyone I met, and I felt how genuine everyone was, it made the decision easy for us.” Williamson added, “I also want to say thank you to coach Wilber for leaving the program in a great place with quality student-athletes that are talented players to build upon. It's rare to get to take over a great program that's on solid ground and I believe coach Wilbs did that here.”

Director of Athletics Ross Cimpl voiced enthusiasm for Williamson’s appointment. “We are so excited for the future of DWU men’s basketball. This was a long and thorough process, and we believe we got our guy with Coach Williamson, who is going to be a tremendous asset to our athletic department and our community.”

Williamson’s more than 15 years as a collegiate coach has had two common threads that have followed him no matter where he is: winning and success on the court and implementing success in the classroom. While at the University of Saint Katherine, the Firebirds and Williamson compiled an 83-42 record with three NAIA tournament appearances, one conference and one conference tournament championship, and a 3.40 team average GPA over 10 semesters (3.49 in the four most recent). Finished top three in the conference all four seasons. Williamson coached one All-American, one player of the year, a freshman and newcomer of the year, a sixth man of the year and 16 all-conference players.

In previous coaching jobs Williamson was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Utah Tech University. During his time there the Trailblazers went 37-18 while making the NCAA Division II National Tournament and were named PacWest Co-Champions.

Coach Williamson also has experience coaching and recruiting in the Midwest where he spent five years in the NSIC coaching at Bemidji State from 2010-12, and at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 2012-15. During his time as an assistant coach and diversity liaison to athletics at Minnesota Duluth, the Bulldogs doubled their win total over three seasons. At Bemidji State the Beavers were the 2012 NSIC Conference Champions, compiling a 22-9 overall and 16-6 conference record, both bests in program history. During his time at BSU, Williamson recruited and developed James Ellisor who was a NCAA DII Daktronics National Player of the Year, All-American, and NSIC Player of the Year.

When asked about the process of finding the best candidate for Tiger men’s basketball Cimpl said, “We wanted to find the right fit for this position. We knew there would be a great deal of interest in the position, but we stressed that we wanted to find someone who knew what Dakota Wesleyan and DWU basketball is all about—what it means to be a Tiger.”

Cimpl stated that the extensive search attracted over 100 applicants.

Williamson commented on his vision for DWU basketball. “The vision I want to implement is living out a championship culture. This involves creating a culture using the three C’s: Community, Classroom and Competition. If we live up to the shared standards that we set as a program within those three C’s, then we will create the fourth “C”—Championship Culture.”

The Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball team finished the 2023-24 season with a 14-15 overall and a 9-11 GPAC record, while making the GPAC tournament, falling against Northwestern in the quarterfinals. The Tigers are losing seniors Diang Gatluak, Nick Wittler and Drew Van Regenmorter.

“We wanted to find someone that could put us in a position to compete for conference and national titles right away and bring a history of winning and success that would take this roster and future rosters to the next level,” Cimpl commented.

Cimpl continued, “Coach Williamson knows how to win, and I cannot wait to see what this program can accomplish under his leadership. We have a great group of young men who want to make a name for themselves and leave their mark on this program.”

Williamson will be making the over 1,500 mile move from San Marcos, Calif. to Mitchell, S.D. and spoke on the move and change, “My wife Vanessa and myself feel thankful and blessed to become a part of the DWU community and Mitchell. We have wanted a new adventure for a few years now and wanted to get back to the Midwest where we first met. We are very excited for our move to Mitchell this summer.”

During the period between previous head coach Matt Wilber accepting a job in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury and the hiring of Williamson, assistant coach Sam Nicholson has been handling all head coaching duties. Cimpl voiced his praise for him saying, “Coach Nicholson did a tremendous job during this process, keeping our players and recruits at the front of every decision. He worked tirelessly to put our team and program in the best possible position, and I want to spotlight him for that.”

Williamson and the Tiger basketball program now sets their sights on the 2024-25 season which will be another full schedule of tough non-conference opponents and, as always, a very competitive GPAC schedule.

Williamson commented. “I know how competitive the GPAC basketball conference is night in and night out, and I will bring my experience and knowledge of how to win in the NAIA with me to Mitchell.” Williamson was asked about playing home games at ‘The World’s Only Corn Palace’ and commented, “Playing at the Corn Palace in front of the Mitchell community is such a great privilege and I want to bring a level of excitement and engagement every night to the Corn Palace this upcoming season.”

In the last 10 seasons, DWU men’s basketball has had seven seasons achieving a .650 or better win percentage, including one conference championship in 2014-15.

“We have an unbelievable history with so many proud alumni. This next step in our history should be very exciting, and I can’t wait to see what coach Williamson and our men’s basketball student athletes achieve,” Cimpl said.