Tom Davis (basketball coach)

Thomas Robert Davis[1] (born December 3, 1938) is an American former college men's basketball coach.[2] He served as the head coach at Lafayette College, Boston College, Stanford University, the University of Iowa, and Drake University from 1971 to 2007.[2]

Tom Davis
Biographical details
Born (1938-12-03) December 3, 1938 (age 82)
Ridgeway, Wisconsin
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1960–1961Milledgeville HS
1961–1966Portage HS
1967–1969Maryland (assistant)
1969–1971American (assistant)
1977–1982Boston College
Head coaching record
Overall598–355 (college)
Tournaments18–11 (NCAA Division I)
4–5 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
Middle Atlantic Western Division (1973)
3 ECC Western/West Division (1975–1977)
Big East regular season (1981)
AP Coach of the Year (1987)
Big East Coach of the Year (1981)
Big Ten Coach of the Year (1987)

Early lifeEdit

A native of Ridgeway, Wisconsin, Davis attended the University of Wisconsin–Platteville, where he played on the basketball team as a point guard. He was interested in politics, and between his junior and senior years of college, held a congressional internship for Wisconsin state senator Alexander Wiley.[3]

Coaching careerEdit

After graduating from UW–Platteville, at the age of 21, Davis took over as head coach at Milledgeville High School in Milledgeville, Illinois for the 1960–61 school year.[4] He attempted to mimic the martinet coaching style of his own college mentor, John Barth, but concluded that "You have to be yourself. What works for someone else isn't going to work for you just because it worked for him."[3]

From 1961 to 1966, Davis was head coach at Portage High School in Portage, Wisconsin.[4] While there, he faced a dilemma in allotting playing time to his players, most of whom he believed were good enough to warrant it. Davis awarded playing time to all deserving players, which gave rise to his philosophy of constantly pressing and rotating players in an effort to wear down the opposing team.[3]

Davis earned a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[5] In 1967, Frank Fellows took over as head coach at the University of Maryland, and hired Davis onto his staff.[6] While serving as an assistant at Maryland, Davis earned his doctorate in history.[3]

Lafayette CollegeEdit

Davis began his coaching career at Lafayette College in 1971. During his six-year tenure at the school, he posted a 116-44 record,[2] advancing to the NIT in 1972 and 1975. Future Maryland head coach Gary Williams, who had played as a point guard under Davis at Maryland, served as one of his assistants at Lafayette.[6]

Boston CollegeEdit

In 1977, Davis became the head coach at Boston College. The Eagles compiled a 100-47 record earning two trips to the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the NIT.[7]

Stanford & IowaEdit

He would accept a position at Stanford University before taking over as the head coach at the University of Iowa in 1986. While at Iowa, he led the Hawkeyes to nine NCAA Tournaments, including a pair of Sweet Sixteen appearances as well as an Elite Eight. The Hawkeyes also made two NIT appearances. He is the winningest coach in the University of Iowa history.

His team was ranked number one during the 1986-87 season. The Hawkeyes won a school record thirty games before eventually being beaten in the Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament by UNLV 84-81.

On April 2, 1998, after Iowa lost in the first round of the NIT, Davis announced that he would resign after his contract would expire in the following season.[8] Athletic director Bob Bowlsby notified Davis that he would not renew his contract.[9] In Davis's final season, Iowa advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988.[10]

Drake UniversityEdit

Davis was named Drake University's 23rd head basketball coach on April 22, 2003. In four short seasons, Davis re-energized a Bulldog program that had not had a winning season since the 1985-86 season. He led Drake to a 17-15 record; including winning the Big Four Series, Drake Regency Challenge, and Sun Bowl Tournament.


On March 21, 2007 Davis announced his retirement from college coaching. His son Keno Davis took over as head basketball coach at Drake University.[2] Davis’ career included sixteen 20-win seasons, eighteen post season appearances, and he was named Associated Press National Coach of the Year in 1987. In 2008, he was inducted into the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame for his success as a coach during his tenure there. He currently lives in the Iowa City area with his wife Shari.

Head coaching recordEdit

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Lafayette Leopards (Middle Atlantic Conference) (1971–1974)
1971–72 Lafayette 21–6 7–3 T–2nd (Western) NIT Second Round
1972–73 Lafayette 16–10 7–3 1st (Western)
1973–74 Lafayette 17–9 7–3 T–2nd (Western)
Lafayette Leopards (East Coast Conference) (1974–1977)
1974–75 Lafayette 22–6 7–1 1st (Western) NIT First Round
1975–76 Lafayette 19–7 9–1 1st (Western)
1976–77 Lafayette 21–6 9–1 1st (West)
Lafayette: 116–44 46–12
Boston College Eagles (NCAA Division I independent) (1977–1979)
1977–78 Boston College 15–11
1978–79 Boston College 21–9
Boston College Eagles (Big East Conference) (1979–1982)
1979–80 Boston College 19–10 2–4 5th NIT Second Round
1980–81 Boston College 23–7 10–4 1st NCAA Division I Sweet 16
1981–82 Boston College 22–10 8–6 4th NCAA Division I Elite Eight
Boston College: 100–47 20–14
Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference) (1982–1986)
1982–83 Stanford 14–14 6–12 8th
1983–84 Stanford 19–12 8–10 T–5th
1984–85 Stanford 11–17 3–15 10th
1985–86 Stanford 14–16 8–10 T–8th
Stanford: 58–59 25–47
Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1986–1999)
1986–87 Iowa 30–5 14–4 3rd NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1987–88 Iowa 24–10 12–6 3rd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
1988–89 Iowa 23–10 10–8 4th NCAA Division I Round of 32
1989–90 Iowa 12–16 4–14 T–8th
1990–91 Iowa 21–11 9–9 T–5th NCAA Division I Round of 32
1991–92 Iowa 19–11 10–8 5th NCAA Division I Round of 32
1992–93 Iowa 23–9 11–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Round of 32
1993–94 Iowa 11–16 5–13 T–9th
1994–95 Iowa 21–12 9–9 T–7th NIT Quarterfinal
1995–96 Iowa 24–8* 12–6* 4th NCAA Division I Round of 32
1996–97 Iowa 22–10 12–6 T–2nd NCAA Division I Round of 32
1997–98 Iowa 20–11 9–7 T–5th NIT First Round
1998–99 Iowa 20–10 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
Iowa: 270–139 126–104
Drake Bulldogs (Missouri Valley Conference) (2003–2007)
2003–04 Drake 12–16 7–11 T–6th
2004–05 Drake 13–16 7–11 7th
2005–06 Drake 12–19 5–13 T–7th
2006–07 Drake 17–15 6–12 T–7th
Drake: 54–66 25–47
Total: 598–355

      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

* Iowa's original 1995–96 record was 23–9 (11–7 Big Ten), but the NCAA awarded Iowa a win by forfeit for the January 3, 1996 game at Purdue, originally an 85–61 loss, due to NCAA violations by Purdue.[11][12]

Notable players coachedEdit


  1. ^ "Thomas Robert Davis". University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "The San Diego Union-Tribune - San Diego, California & National News".
  3. ^ a b c d Dr. Tom's magic elixir: Davis is a basketball coach with a system that works, The Milwaukee Journal, March 22, 1982.
  4. ^ a b "Tom Davis of Lafayette new Boston College Coach". Standard-Speaker. Hazleton, Pennsylvania. February 17, 1977. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  5. ^ "Tom Davis and the Iowa Hawkeyes". University of Iowa. Archived from the original on October 8, 1999. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Boylan Recalls Where It All Began, Issue 142: October 2009.
  7. ^ "Head Coach Tom Davis". Drake University. Archived from the original on February 7, 2007. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  8. ^ Thompson, Jack (April 3, 1998). "Davis To Leave Iowa After Next Season". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  9. ^ Peterson, Randy (March 15, 1999). "If it's crazy, it must involve Iowa". The Des Moines Register. Archived from the original on April 17, 2001. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Peterson, Randy (March 14, 1999). "The Doctor is in; Hawkeyes advance to NCAA's Sweet 16". Archived from the original on April 17, 2001. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  11. ^ "1995-96 Iowa Hawkeyes Schedule and Results".
  12. ^ Dodd, Geoff (February 25, 2000). "Purdue basketball program suffers from NCAA violations". The Collegian. Penn State. Retrieved November 5, 2017.