|Steve Fritz announced he was stepping down as men's
basketball coach. He will remain athletic director. John Tauer, who
played for Fritz and has been an assistant coach for 11 seasons,
will coach the team in 2011-12.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com
By Pat Coleman
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Steve Fritz, who has been a member of the St. Thomas men's basketball program since 1967, announced he would step down as head coach effective immediately.
"This is the perfect time to step down," Fritz said. "This program is in great condition and in a great position for the future. Coming off the pinnacle of the team's success and winning the Division III national championship made this year very special and it certainly caps off my coaching career."
Fritz, who is also in his 20th season as athletic director for the Tommies, has won 594 career games against 246 defeats. He scored 1,944 points as a player and is still second on the program's all-time scoring list.
St. Thomas won the Division III national championship this past season, defeating Wooster 78-54.
"I am also thrilled today to announce that Dr. John Tauer has agreed to be the interim head coach for the 2021-2012 season," Fritz said. "He was a great player for us from 1991 to 1995. He led us to the Final Four of Division III in 1994, turned around the next season and we put together a perfect season until we got into the NCAA playoffs. ... He has also assisted me for the past 11 years and has been a key part of our wonderful success that we have experienced during that time."
Fritz, 62, is facing knee surgery and arm surgery this offseason. He will remain athletic director. His retirement as coach ends a stretch of 44 seasons and 1,199 games of Fritz's direct involvement in the St. Thomas men's basketball game, as a player from 1967-71, an assistant coach from 1971-80 and head coach from 1980-2011.
The school also announced it will place Fritz's name on the floor this spring and hold a dedication in the fall. "That’s pretty humbling and obviously a great honor," Fritz said. "You look at 44 years, it's unbelievable that anyone could be at the same place for 44 years and have as much fun as I've had for 44 years. Certainly a lot of it is attached to basketball and to have the basketball court named after you is certainly very humbling and a great honor."
The full news conference: