Why Greg Kampe, the longest-tenured men’s basketball coach, has hung around Oakland University all these years

Forty years within the past Greg Kampe develop into the head coach at a largely anonymous Division II Oakland University.

Kampe, 28 on the time, was as soon as in possession of too essential self assurance and too miniature perspective when he sat down for an interview with Larry Donald, the then-editor of Basketball Times journal, to exclaim his profession intentions.

“I told him, ‘My idea is to recall the D-II national championship this 300 and sixty five days after which salvage the UCLA job,” Kampe mentioned. “He burst out laughing and mentioned, ‘I’m going to use this.’

“Oh, the issues we tell in our youth.”

Kampe, now 68, laughed whereas retelling the story last week from that very same OU campus — albeit now a immense and trendy university, total with a Division I athletic department.

Oakland by no manner did recall that D-II title and UCLA by no manner did call Kampe — although slightly plenty of different colleges did. No topic. Every thing develop into out correct appropriate anyway.

That involves leading his now-Division I and 14th-seeded Golden Grizzlies to an 80-76 big-slaying upset of No. 3 Kentucky and John Calipari on Thursday within the first round of the NCAA tournament — the most spirited victory within the program’s history. OU’s handiest earlier NCAA tourney recall came within the First Four in 2005.

What Kampe as soon as observed as a “one-300 and sixty five days” cease has develop into accurate into a lifetime. He slowly built up a program at what was as soon as as soon as a largely commuter faculty that was as soon as so miniature known that even recruits in close by Detroit idea it was as soon as positioned in California (it’s named after the county it’s positioned in).

Every thing at OU has his label. Four D-II NCAA appearances within the late 1990s resulted in the constructing of the 4,000-seat O’rena, which is as correct of a mid-indispensable facility as there would possibly perhaps be. That spurred a jump to Division I after which a sluggish climb from just to the dilapidated Midwest Collegiate Conference, later named the Summit, and at last into the Horizon.

Oakland head coach Greg Kampe celebrates with leading scorers Blake Lampman (left) and Trey Townsend (4) after winning the men's Horizon League title on March 12. (Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Oakland head coach Greg Kampe celebrates with leading scorers Blake Lampman (left) and Trey Townsend (4) after successful the men’s Horizon League title on March 12. (Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photos)

Kampe has coached 5 NBA avid gamers, led four teams to Division I March Madness and won 698 profession games. Everybody knows him on campus, and slightly plenty of of us know him beyond it.

Even though he now resides in midtown Detroit, he and his accomplice Sue raised three boys approach OU’s campus. He was as soon as adore one another dad, correct a basketball coach no longer an auto govt. His down-to-earth personality, relentless humor and fervour for golf accept as true with made him a teaching everyman and a native mini-celeb.

Then there would possibly perhaps be his dedication to raising money for charities, particularly Coaches vs. Most cancers, by any manner foremost. Earlier this month he volunteered to work at a McDonald’s force-thru to sell Shamrock Shakes because half of the proceeds went to the Ronald McDonald Dwelling.

That’s Kampe. And in all likelihood that’s why by no manner leaving develop into out to be the handiest thing to ever occur to him — the man who doesn’t recall himself too severely by no manner had a job where the fan spoiled takes everything too severely.

“The very very first thing I chanced on out as a coach is that successful is rarely any longer easy, it’s laborious,” Kampe mentioned. “Nothing charge anything else is easy although. Then as soon as we got the program going, I’m a firm believer in loyalty and Oakland repeatedly treated me with loyalty.”

Kampe can accept as true with coached on the high-indispensable stage. He is highly revered across the nation. It’s no longer unfamiliar for coaches to come and explore his practices or glimpse his advice. What he says he didn’t observe is that Oakland was as soon as too far down the teaching food chain for a Mammoth Ten or ACC faculty to rent him.

He wished to switch up thru the ranks, however he repeatedly develop into down opportunities within the Mid-American Conference and the Missouri Valley because he loved living and raising his household where he did. Plus he didn’t judge any of these places were better than OU.

Next thing , “15 years, 25 years lunge by. I fancy it although. There would possibly perhaps be a few pleasure in it. Even though, when of us tell I’m the longest-tenured coach within the nation, I tell, ‘That’s immense, however let’s focus on how correct our crew is.’”

There would possibly perhaps be a explicit joy in staying. This technique is his. Its previous, its fresh and its future. His handiest participant, Trey Townsend, is the son of two used Oakland basketball avid gamers from the 1980s — father Skip, who helped Kampe to his first 20-recall season, and mom Nicole.

Trey started coming to Kampe’s summer camp as a baby. He dropped 38 capabilities and snagged 11 rebounds within the Horizon League title sport to secure OU’s berth within the NCAA tourney. On Thursday, he helped recall down Kentucky with 17 capabilities and 12 rebounds.

Oakland's Greg Kampe is the longest-tenured men's basketball coach in Division I. (Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Oakland’s Greg Kampe is the longest-tenured men’s basketball coach in Division I. (Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photos)

There’s even extra than that, nonetheless. Skip has built a highly successful profession at Cadillac, however he got his foot within the door because Kampe known as an OU season observe holder, John Shock, to counsel Skip for a job after commencement. Shock noteworthy that his Cadillac basketball crew was as soon as playing a crew from Ford the next week.

“I mentioned, ‘Then hire Skip appropriate now,’” Kampe laughed.

Kampe has tried to preserve his program serious about inside of most connections and particular person pattern. He’s had extra than his share of avid gamers lunge on to play professionally — NBA or Europe — however that’s no longer what OU hoops can completely be about.

The switch portal before everything uncomfortable him as correct avid gamers from his roster were poached by faculty’s in bigger leagues. He like a flash realized nonetheless that his complaints and feedback “made me sound adore a bitter dilapidated man and I don’t want to be a bitter dilapidated man.”

In its build he embraced it. No laborious feelings for anybody who left. Within the period in-between, he labored the portal himself. This crew has contributors who transferred “down” from Michigan Deliver and “up” from Division III Hillsdale Faculty. Others are high faculty recruits or come from junior colleges.

It isn’t correct a deep roster, however a shut-knit one. Everybody is where they ought to be.

“What I’ve repeatedly tried to carry out for a young man, what I’ve repeatedly tried to coach them or instill in them over four years, I now are trying to carry out it in 365 days,” Kampe mentioned. “If I salvage to preserve them, immense.”

A 300 and sixty five days within the past, Trey Townsend can accept as true with left for a high-indispensable program. In its build he selected to carry out his stage and play another season for OU. With one 300 and sixty five days of eligibility final, Kampe wants him to explore his alternate choices after this season.

Within the period in-between, Townsend has been dubbed “Mr. Oakland” and adore the leisure of the crew, is basking within the excitement of a March Madness observe punched.

It’s one extra example of what his coach blueprint support realized — the UCLAs of the world aren’t everything … because usually the grass is slightly inexperienced appropriate where you would very properly be.

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