Future NABA President Dr. Jim Burson to retire in 2006
NEW CONCORD, OHIO, February 28, 2005 - At a press conference today, Muskingum College President Dr. Anne C. Steele announced that Head Men's Basketball Coach Dr. Jim Burson, who will become president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) at the NCAA Division I Final Four in April, will be taking a sabbatical during the 2005-06 season and retiring from Muskingum, effective August 31, 2006.
Burson has led the Fighting Muskie program to prominence as a member of the board of the NABC and will be the first Ohio coach to hold the post of president since the legendary Ohio State University Head Coach Fred Taylor held the gavel during the 1972-73 season. Furthermore, Burson was featured in the Sports Illustrated February 17, 2003 issue in an article titled It All Starts Here, which was about Pete Carril's Princeton Offense and how it is suddenly the height of hoop fashion. In the article, Coach Burson is credited with breaking down the complicated Princeton Offense and spreading his knowledge of it to coaches across the country.
"I knew when I started this year that this may be my last season. After 41 years, some of my disciplined habits have eroded a little bit and the game has changed. I've tried to adjust using the Princeton Offense and with defense," said Burson. "I find myself at times going 'Wow I don't think I can quite fit.' When you get to that stage and you can smile and say we had a good year, then you just know it's time. Muskingum has been nothing but good to me and I've had a wonderful time. I'm so proud that they gave me a chance at a young age to be here and to coach. It has been a great run and I have no regrets."
Regarding his election as NABC president, Buson said,"It will be an honor to represent all the basketball coaches in the country and Muskingum College when I become president of the NABC. My heroes have always been coaches, from my high school coach Bob Tucker to my college coach Bobby Burkholder to the people I coached against and my college football coach Ed Sherman. All those people have left a legacy with me. I think that's the key thing with me - is to be able to look back at those people and say how much I respected them. I hope that those future people will look back and say they were influenced by their college coach. If that can happen, maybe that's all that anybody would want at this stage in their life."
Burson's passion for basketball has been burning bright at Muskingum since 1967, and he has become a permanent part of its basketball history. Burson ends his 38-year coaching career as Muskingum's all-time winningest basketball coach with a record of 542-416. Burson's victories also rank in the top 10 all-time in Division III and currently top 5 among active Division III coaches.
"As an educator and coach, Jim has developed and mentored thousands of Muskingum College students. These students are his legacy," said Muskingum College President Dr. Anne C. Steele. "Yes, Muskingum basketball will undoubtedly miss Jim Burson. But the students of Muskingum College and the entire Muskingum College community will miss him even more."
Burson picked up his first career win over Mount Union College (73-68) on January 9, 1968. Since then, he has been honored as the Ohio Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times (1973, 1977, 1988, 1990, 2000) and was named the NCAA District IV Coach of the Year in 1977. Additionally, he has coached seven All-Americans and 64 All-Ohio Athletic Conference players. Furthermore, his teams have won three OAC regular season titles (1973, 1974 and 1976) and three OAC Tournament championships (1977, 1988, and 1990) and have gone to the NCAA tournament five times (1977, 1981, 1983, 1988, and 1990).
"For anyone to have been associated with any aspect of his program must certainly judge that very special opportunity as a rare privilege from one of the leaders in the coaching profession," said Texas Tech University Head Coach Bob Knight.
"While personally I'm happy for Jim, selfishly I'm saddened by his retirement. As a man, he's in a class by himself. He's a gentleman's gentleman," said OAC Commissioner Tim Gleason. "As a coach, he's often produced championship teams, or teams that have overachieved, and they've been fun to watch through the years. The Ohio Athletic Conference is better off today because of Jim Burson."
Burson has been involved in amateur basketball at its highest levels. He was a coach at the Olympic Sports Festival in Los Angeles in 1988, and he was involved in the selection process for the 1984 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Los Angeles.
"After working in the Ohio Athletic Conference for as long as I have, I've always believed Coach Burson was a legend. And then working with him the past four years has affirmed my thoughts that he truly is a legend," said Muskingum Athletic Director Larry Shank. "It has been my pleasure to work with him on a daily basis. I've always trusted his opinion and I have always admired his integrity. The young people who have had him as a professor in class and the young people who have played for him were truly blessed."
Burson, who graduated from Muskingum in 1963, played both football (quarterback) and basketball (guard) as a Muskie. He returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach in 1964 and was elevated to head coach in 1967. Off the basketball court, Burson received both his master's degree and his doctorate from The Ohio State University.