May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Concordia men’s basketball coach Ken Ammann earns prestigious national award

Concordia Coach Ken Ammann talks with senior guard Jamel White. (Photo courtesy Troy Makalena)

Concordia University Irvine men’s basketball coach Ken Ammann has received the 2020 Harry Statham Coach of Impact Award presented by Small College Basketball.
 
The annual award honors basketball head coaches at the small college level who have used the power of the coaching platform to make a positive impact on players, coaches and others.  In addition to leading successful teams on the court, the award highlights coaches that display high character and integrity while serving as excellent role models who have deeply impacted the lives of others.
 
The award is named after NAIA Basketball Hall of Famer Harry Statham, the former head basketball coach at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois.  Coach Statham earned 1,122 wins during his 52 seasons at McKendree, and that number is the most by any men’s or women’s basketball head coach at a four-year college or university in the United States.
 
“I am so honored to be this year’s recipient of the Harry Statham Coach of Impact Award, especially because it has his name on it,” said Ammann.  “Coach Statham competed with the highest level of character and integrity.  Even though Coach Statham is the winningest college men’s basketball coach of all time, the most impressive aspect of his career to me was the fact that he always won and lost with class. 

“He was such a tremendous role model in this manner for all who competed for and against him.  For these reasons, I could not be more grateful to be recognized as a coach who loves the game and all the student-athletes who have come through our program.” 
 
Ammann and Statham actually coached against each other in the 2003 NAIA national semifinals.  Ammann’s Eagles defeated Statham’s Bearcats 81-58 to advance to the title game, where Concordia ultimately beat Mountain State in overtime to claim the program’s first NAIA National Championship. Under Ammann’s leadership, Concordia also won the 2012 NAIA National Championship.
 
“Ken Ammann is a fantastic basketball coach,” said Statham. “In his first season as head coach at Concordia, he won 21 games. In season two, he won 36 games and the NAIA National Championship. In his 14 years from 2001-2015, he amassed 363 wins, appearing 10 times in the NAIA National Tournament, including two National Championships, two runner-ups, two Final Eights, and two Final Sixteens.”
 
“In addition to teaching offense, defense, and basketball fundamentals, Coach Ammann is also highly successful in developing off-the-court values that are very important in our society. With so much emphasis on winning, sometimes values are not given adequate attention. Character, integrity, positive attitude and thinking of others are just a few of the traits I have witnessed in his players during competition and off the court. He is truly a coach of impact.”
 
“I was one of the fortunate coaches to get to spend some time with legendary coach John Wooden,” added Ammann, who was introduced to Wooden on many occasions when he served as an assistant coach at Pepperdine in the late 1990s. “Coach Statham is the closest comparison to him as I’ve ever seen in terms of coaching with class, being a great teacher, and succeeding at a high level on the court as well as in his personal life. He has lived a balanced life which is extremely rare in our business.”
 
In 19 seasons at the helm of the Eagles program, Coach Ammann has compiled an overall record of 485-160.  This includes two NAIA National Championships, five GSAC Championships, and five GSAC Tournament Championships. Ammann was named NAIA Coach of the Year twice and he is also the longest-tenured coach in Concordia University Irvine history.
 
Perhaps most impressively, Ammann’s Concordia teams have won at least 20 games in 16 of his 19 seasons. That includes the past three seasons as the Eagles established themselves as major players in the PacWest Conference and in the West Region at the NCAA DII level.
 
In the Eagles first year of NCAA Division II competition during the 2015-16 season, Coach Ammann’s team finished the year with a 22-7 record. In the next season, the team’s first season of postseason eligibility, the Eagles secured their first berth in the PacWest Conference Tournament, after the team posted a 19-10 regular season record. Ammann’s team earned its first ever PacWest Conference Tournament victory when the Eagles defeated Point Loma that March. The 2018-19 campaign also saw the Eagles reach the NCAA Division II National Tournament for the very first time out of the West Region.
 
The annual winner of the Harry Statham Coach of Impact Award must have coached at the small college level for a majority of his career, and must have a high degree of personal character and integrity. The coach may be a current or former coach, and Small College Basketball honors a living coach with this award annually. 2020 marks the second year of the award. In 2019, Bob Burchard, the former athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Columbia, Miss., was named the inaugural award winner.

—Courtesy Ben Rosehart, Concordia sports information