Lawrence men's coach steps down

More news about: Lawrence
After graduating from Lawrence in 1998, Joel DePagter (right) won 134 games in 10-plus seasons at his alma mater. 
File photo by Lawrence University athletics

Lawrence University announced that men's head basketball coach Joel DePagter has stepped down from his position. Assistant coach Chris Kellett will be the Vikings' interim coach for the rest of the season.

University Director of Athletics Christyn Abaray announced the move in a press release today.

"Joel has decided to move on from Lawrence effective immediately," Abaray said in the relaease. "Joel has been with the LU Vikings program for more 20 years as a student-athlete, an assistant coach and a head coach, amassing many honors and accolades along the way."

DePagter had a decorated playing career at Lawrence that included three first-team All-Midwest Conference selections (1996, 1997 and 1998) and MWC Player of the Year in 1997.  He graduated from the University with a bachelor's degree in history in 1998 and was elected into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. He still holds the program's career records for assists and steals.

DePagter started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Lawrence under John Tharp, left for graduate studies and eventually returned to the University in 2003. He was an assistant on the 2005-06 Lawrence team that finished 25-1 with a loss in the NCAA Tournament sectional finals

In April 2007 DePagter became the Vikings' head coach and led them to MWC tournament titles in 2008 and 2009, earning Conference Coach of the Year honors in the latter season. DePagter is the only man in MWC basketball to win the Player and Coach of the Year awards. He leaves Lawrence with a career record of 134-111. The Vikings are 7-5, 3-3 in the MWC this season.

"We thank him for his many years of service to Lawrence," Abaray said in the release. "It goes without saying that his history as an alumnus and a former coach will always be a part of who we are. Always. We are better for having him choose us. We additionally let him know that this is not goodbye so, as we already had chatted about, we'll be in touch and for him to not be a stranger."

Kellett, who has had two stints as an assistant coach under DePagter, takes over the head coaching duties on an interim basis. Kellett served as an assistant for three seasons, became the head coach at Shawano (Wis.) Community High School for two seasons and then returned to Lawrence. A 2009 graduate of Ripon College, Kellett is also a teacher at Taft Elementary School in Neenah, Wisconsin. 

The Vikings next game is Friday, Jan. 12 at Cornell College.