|After three seasons of 12, 14
and 12 wins, Moravian went 5-20 this season. Walker coached for one
season at Drew before coming to Moravian in
Brent Hugo/Image by Hugo for Moravian athletics
Moravian head men's basketball coach Jim Walker announced his retirement after leading the Greyhounds' program for the last 35 seasons. His retirement is effective at the end of the current academic year on May 10.
Walker has amassed a 442-440 record during his time in Bethlehem, and a career coaching mark of 456-452 in 36 years after getting his coaching career started with a year at Drew for the 1978-79 season. Walker guided the Greyhounds to two NCAA Tournament bids, including one in 2007-08, 10 conference playoff appearances and six of his teams earned national rankings.
"It is hard to imagine men's basketball at Moravian College without Jim Walker. It certainly can be described as the end of an era," stated athletic director Scot Dapp. "I have watched him coach for 28 years and his work ethic and energy never wavered. While many people associate a coach's legacy with a won-loss record; the real measure is what happens to the young men who were part of the program when they graduate. For 36 years Jim has guided hundreds of players during their tenure and then watched them go out into the world to become productive citizens in all walks of life. He has represented Moravian College with pride and Moravian College can be proud of him. There is no way to count the hours upon hours Jim has spent coaching, recruiting, mentoring, and teaching; he deserves to now have time to himself and his family."
In 2007-08, Walker and his staff earned Landmark Conference Coaching Staff of the Year honors while leading Moravian to a runner-up finish in the conference and a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Walker led the 2012-13 Greyhounds to an ECAC South postseason appearance. He also led the Greyhounds to a Commonwealth League title in 1995-96 and was named the Commonwealth League Coach of the Year.
"I think the relationships are the big thing that I'll miss the most, those relationships that you develop with your players, your assistant coaches, your opponents and the other staff members here at Moravian College," Walker said. "It is one of the things that I've always liked most about Moravian; it is a school about relationships. I think that is what makes it such a great place to work. I know we're in the business of wins and losses, and so it is important to win enough to make it worthwhile. However, more important are the relationships that you develop, the things that you, your players and everybody learns about how you compete and what you have to do to be successful.
"We try to get our players to understand that there is a process involved into developing into a good player and a good team," he continued. "You've got to do those things just to be good and we too often get worried about whether we win or lose and not enough on those things that are important to get there. That process is something that I've always enjoyed. I'm a guy that really likes practice more than the games because it is about that process. I can't remember any practices that I've gone to that I didn't want to be at. To me, that is most important. I might miss it some say but I'm going to try to do something else with my life for a few years. I told the players that I've done the same thing for more than half my life, coached at the same school."
For the last two winters, Walker has taken his love of the game and free throw shooting as well as the quest to raise awareness of cancer to the foul line with two Coaches vs. Cancer free throw marathons. In 2014, Walker made 16,022 free throws, shooting an hour a day for 24 straight days, and he raised over $3,300. This winter, Walker connected on 20,137 shots from the charity stripe over the 24 consecutive days and is still collecting his pledges of $1 per 1,000 free throws.
Walker was Moravian's men's tennis coach from 1979 until 2009, and his career includes the 1996 Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth League championship and several conference playoffs appearances with a berth in the 2009 Landmark Conference championship match. He was a ranked player in the Middle States Tennis Association, and is a teaching member of the Professional Tennis Registry. He also directed the Greyhound tennis and basketball camps in the summer and the annual fall basketball coaches clinic at Moravian.
"I've coached more than basketball while here but when you do something that long, it becomes something that you do every day and you don't think about doing anything else," explained Walker. "I woke up one morning and said I'd like to do something else next year but I'm not quite sure what that is yet. This season didn't play into the decision at all. This is something I've been thinking about for a while. I know when you don't win, you don't get a lot of support from the fans but the support I've received from all five athletic directors and the other coaches that have chipped in, those are the nice things about the job. I've really enjoyed working with the other people at Moravian College outside of athletics, the faculty, and the administration including working with five presidents."
Walker also served two stints as interim director of athletics for the Greyhounds. Walker earned a B.A. in history from Gettysburg in 1965, where he played varsity basketball and tennis, and earned a master's degree in education from Rider.
"Moravian College educated my son Jeremy and for me, that is a great thing, Walker said. "I got to coach him for three years, and he's been on my staff as an assistant the last eight seasons. That's been great. He got a great education at Moravian and met his wife here.
"I have always felt that the most important part of my job was to help our players learn the values that would help them be successful both on and off the court -- working hard, working together, being responsible and accountable, trusting in each other and being committed to a common goal," concluded Walker. "As a teacher, I am especially proud of the large number of young men who have learned these while on our team and had them carry over into their lives and careers. I am especially proud of the large number of them who have pursued teaching and coaching careers."
Moravian will begin an immediate search for its next head coach.