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Stephen Maxmillian Belko (February 14, 1916 – May 12, 2000) was an American college basketball coach at Idaho State College and the University of Oregon. He was later the third commissioner of the Big Sky Conference.[1]

Steve Belko
Steve Belko.jpg
Wickiup 1951, Idaho State College yearbook
Biographical details
Born(1916-02-14)February 14, 1916
Gary, Indiana
DiedMay 12, 2000(2000-05-12) (aged 84)
Boise, Idaho
Playing career
1936–1939Idaho (football, basketball)
Position(s)Back - (football)
Guard / Forward - (basketball)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1939–1940St. Maries HS
1940–1943Lewiston HS
1946–1950Idaho (assistant)
1950–1956Idaho State
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1971–1972Oregon - (assistant)
1972–1975Far West Classic - director
1975–1977Big Sky - evaluator
1977–1981Big Sky - commissioner
Head coaching record
Overall288–262 (.524)
Accomplishments and honors
Rocky Mountain Conference championship (1953–1956)
Rocky Mountain Coach of the Year
Steve Belko
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1942–1945
Battles/warsWorld War II

Playing careerEdit

The son of Russian immigrants, Belko was born in Gary, Indiana, and graduated from Froebel High School. He attended Compton Junior College in southern California for a year,[2] with plans to play basketball at USC, where his older brother Max (1914–44) starred in football.[3][4] When the assistant basketball coach at USC that recruited him got the head job at Idaho, also a member of the Pacific Coast Conference, Belko followed Forrest Twogood north in 1936 and hitchhiked over a thousand miles (1600 km) to Moscow.[5][6]

A two-sport athlete for the Vandals, he was a guard and small forward in basketball and a halfback and quarterback[7] on the football team,[8] and a teammate of future coaches Lyle Smith and Tony Knap.[9][10] As seniors in 1938, they led the Vandals to a 6–3–1 (.650) record, Idaho's best in years and the last winning season for a quarter century.

Belko opted not to play baseball, though he considered it his best sport.[11] A member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and senior class president,[2] he earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1939.[2]

Coaching careerEdit

Following his graduation from Idaho in 1939, Belko was a high school coach in northern Idaho at St. Maries for a season and for three at Lewiston,[12] then served in the U.S. Navy in World War II as a Russian interpreter.[5] Following his military service, Belko briefly returned to Lewiston,[13] then moved to the University of Idaho in Moscow and coached the Vandal freshman teams in football and basketball.[14][15][16]

Idaho StateEdit

In 1950, Belko was hired as the head basketball coach at Idaho State College in Pocatello, which became a four-year school in 1947. His Bengals soon dominated the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and made the NCAA tournament in four consecutive seasons (195356). The NCAA tournament field varied from 22 to 25 teams in the mid-1950s.

Belko's six-season record at Idaho State was 109–51 (.681), and he was named the conference coach of the year three times. The Bengals' conference record in his last four seasons was 39–3 (.929). This success led to his hiring in June 1956 at Oregon, then a member of the Pacific Coast Conference. [17][18]


Belko was the head coach of the Ducks for fifteen seasons and posted a 179–211 (.459) record, with a 44–102 (.301) record in conference play. His teams made the NCAA tournament twice, in 1960 and 1961, as an independent. The 1960 team advanced to the Western regional finals, the national quarterfinals (Elite 8). After five years as an independent, Oregon joined the Pacific-8 Conference (then "AAWU") for the 1964–65 season. In February 1970, the Ducks upset three-time defending national champion UCLA at McArthur Court in Eugene, winning 78–65 to snap the Bruins' 25-game winning streak.[19]

Following a pair of 17–9 seasons, Belko stepped down in April 1971 at age 55 and remained in Eugene as the assistant athletic director at Oregon.[20]

Head coaching recordEdit

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Idaho State Bengals (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) (1950–1956)
1950–51 Idaho State 17–12 5–5 4th
1951–52 Idaho State 16–11 6–4 3rd
1952–53 Idaho State 18–7 10–0 1st NCAA First Round
1953–54 Idaho State 22–5 9–1 1st NCAA First Round
1954–55 Idaho State 18–8 9–1 1st NCAA First Round
1955–56 Idaho State 18–8 11–1 1st NCAA First Round
Idaho State: 109–51 50–12
Oregon Webfoots (Pacific Coast Conference) (1956–1959)
1956–57 Oregon 4–21 2–14 9th
1957–58 Oregon 13–11 6–10 7th
1958–59 Oregon 9–16 3–13 T–8th
Oregon Webfoots (Independent) (1959–1964)
1959–60 Oregon 19–10 NCAA Elite 8
1960–61 Oregon 15–12 NCAA First Round
1961–62 Oregon 9–17
1962–63 Oregon 11–15
1963–64 Oregon 14–12
Oregon Webfoots (AAWU / Pacific–8 Conference) (1964–1971)
1964–65 Oregon 9–17 3–11 8th
1965–66 Oregon 13–13 6–8 T–4th
1966–67 Oregon 9–17 1–13 8th
1967–68 Oregon 7–19 2–12 8th
1968–69 Oregon 13–13 5–9 T–5th
1969–70 Oregon 17–9 8–6 4th
1970–71 Oregon 17–9 8–6 T–3rd
Oregon: 179–211 44–102
Total: 288–262

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


After a year as assistant athletic director, Belko left the Oregon athletic department in 1972 to direct the Far West Classic basketball tournament in Portland for three years.[1] In 1975, he moved to Boise to work for the Big Sky Conference as an evaluator of basketball officials. Belko was named commissioner of the conference in December 1976 and served from 1977 to 1981.[14][15]


  1. ^ a b Killen, John H. (December 21, 1976). "Belko is named commissioner of Big Sky". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 1B.
  2. ^ a b c "Seniors". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1939. p. 62. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Belko is All-American candidate's brother". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. November 21, 1936. p. 13.
  4. ^ Johnson, Mac R. (August 25, 1944). "All-American Belko killed". Warsaw (IN) Daily Union. United Press. p. 2.
  5. ^ a b Strite, Dick (January 14, 1960). "Highclimber". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 1D.
  6. ^ "Steve Belko brother of Trojan line star". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. November 20, 1936. p. 12.
  7. ^ "Idaho leaves to meet Utah". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. November 11, 1936. p. 12.
  8. ^ Cawood, Neil (April 20, 1971). "Belko out, Penn coach succeeds". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 3B.
  9. ^ "Idaho defeats Scalers, 36-34". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. December 24, 1936. p. 12.
  10. ^ "Vandals tie Utah Staters". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. October 17, 1937. p. 11.
  11. ^ "Steve Belko passes baseball at Idaho". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. April 12, 1937. p. 14.
  12. ^ "Lewiston and Coeur d'Alene to meet this weekend in north Idaho playoff". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. March 9, 1943. p. 9.
  13. ^ "Belko accepts U Idaho coaching job". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. September 19, 1946. p. 8.
  14. ^ a b "Belko gets Big Sky czar post". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 21, 1976. p. 27.
  15. ^ a b "Belko says he'll quit; Big Sky search is on". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 17, 1980. p. C1.
  16. ^ Derr, Allen (February 12, 1950). "Steve Belko, Idaho frosh coach, reverses tradition". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 2, sports.
  17. ^ "New Webfoot coach won four straight titles at Idaho State". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. June 3, 1956. p. 1B.
  18. ^ "Steve Belko appointed head basketball coach at Oregon". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. June 3, 1956. p. 8.
  19. ^ Wyant, Dan (February 22, 1970). "Ducks stun UCLA". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 1.
  20. ^ "Quakers' Harter replacing Belko". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. April 21, 1971. p. 16.

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