CEDAR CITY — After almost forty years of coaching basketball, coach Roger Reid has announced his retirement as head men's basketball coach at Southern Utah University. With eleven squad members returning next year, including all-league selection Jackson Stevenett and two more players with starting experience, Reid leaves behind a Thunderbird program poised for success in the Big Sky, which SUU will join for the 2012-13 season.
"I will miss this great group of young men," Reid said. "I have coached so many fine players in my career, and this group ranks up there with the best of them. They have worked their tails off on the floor, they have performed in the classroom, and they will certainly make noise in the Big Sky. This program is in great shape and this team can win a lot of games."
Picked to take ninth by several publications, the Thunderbirds finished this season 14-17, including an 8-10 conference record, which was good for sixth place in the highest-ranked Summit League season in the conference's history. The Thunderbirds went 1-1 in the Summit League tournament, ousting two-time defending champion Oakland in the quarterfinal round before seeing their season end at the hands of eventual champion South Dakota State in the semifinals. The Summit League was one of the best mid-major conferences in the country this year, with a final regular-season RPI of 15, just behind the WCC, WAC, Ivy, and Colonial leagues.
"Our kids played their hearts out this season in easily the most competitive league the school has ever played in," Reid noted. "With the difficult travel and level of competition, it was a monster challenge and I am very proud of what they accomplished."
Adding another milestone to his impressive resume, Reid earned his 200th career NCAA Division I win as a head coach during the 2011-12 campaign. He retires with an overall Division I record of 205-173, including a 54-97 record at SUU.
Unlike any other coach so rooted in the history and fabric of Utah basketball, Reid's basketball success has spanned virtually every level of the game. As a head coach alone, Reid's teams have won over 400 games.
"Well, I believe that I have coached in over 1,100 games, and I have been on the winning side in over 700 of them," he pointed out. "As I look back, my teams have won games in just about every gym in the state of Utah, not to mention hundreds of gyms around this country. Not many coaches are fortunate enough to have that level of sustained success.
"Put simply, it has always been a privilege for me to coach this splendid sport. My time at Southern Utah has likewise been a blessing, and, as always, it was due to the caliber of young men that I coached and the fine coaches that I worked with."
A three-sport standout from Springville High School, Reid excelled as a collegiate athlete. He was named an All-American in baseball at the College of Eastern Utah and he has since been inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. At Weber State University, Reid was a two-time all conference shortstop and, as a member of the 1968 Big Sky championship basketball team, he helped coach Dick Motta's Wildcats earn the school's first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. After graduation from WSU, Reid spent the next four years as a shortstop with the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves organizations.
Reid's coaching career began at Payson High School, where he guided the basketball team to a state championship appearance in his first year and a 50-26 record in three seasons. From there, Reid led the Clearfield High School program to a 60-24 record in four seasons before being hired as an assistant coach at Brigham Young University.
After 11 years as an assistant coach, which included over 200 wins and six NCAA Tournament appearances, Reid is probably best known for his success as head coach at BYU. While at BYU, he guided the Cougars to a 152-76 record, and three WAC tournament championships during his seven full seasons at the program's helm. Under Reid, the Cougars earned five NCAA Tournament berths as well as an NIT appearance. In 1990 and again in 1992 Reid was named WAC and District Coach of the Year.
Reid spent the next several years coaching professionally. He was an assistant coach on Danny Ainge's staff with the Phoenix Suns, helping the Suns to a pair of playoff appearances. He also spent two seasons as the head coach of the Hangzhou Horses in the Chinese Basketball Association, quickly guiding the Horses to the CBA playoffs after six straight losing seasons.
Upon his return to the collegiate ranks in 2005, he led the Snow College Badgers to a 23-8 record and a Scenic West Athletic Conference regular-season championship as well as a No. 18 national ranking. He was named the 2007 Scenic West Conference Coach of the Year.
In his first year at SUU, Reid led the Thunderbirds to their first winning record in league play in five years. In his second year, he led the Thunderbirds to their first post-season win in six years.
"In our third year, we essentially started over with eight freshmen and two sophomores,"?Reid recalled. "Since then, this group has improved in the win column every year and next year's team will be laden with veterans. I am excited for their future."
This season, the Thunderbirds won their most road games in 11 years, a notable achievement considering the team's extensive travel schedule.
"Coach Reid is a dear friend and I will always admire and appreciate his work ethic and commitment to the young men he has coached,"?stated SUU President Michael Benson. "To win over 200 Division I games is a notable accomplishment but even more important are the lessons he has taught and the values he has instilled in the young men he has coached for nearly four decades."?
"Coach Reid is an iconic figure in the world of coaching and his name is synonymous with basketball in the state of Utah,"?noted SUU Board of Trustees Chair Gayle Pollock. "Over the past 38 years his passion for the game and tireless work ethic have earned him the respect and admiration of his peers. We collectively wish Coach Reid and his dear wife Diane the best in their future endeavors."?
Even though he is retiring, Reid knows that the coaching blood runs deep in his veins, and he left open the possibility for a return to the ranks some day.
"I am sure I will get the itch to coach again," Reid said. "But for now, I am ready to move on.
"I am humbled for the opportunities I have had here,"?Reid went on to say. "As I start to reflect on my coaching career, the many great wins and moments that I have enjoyed start coming into sharp focus. But what most people will never see, and what I have enjoyed the most, is the thousands of hours spent studying and teaching the game and preparing young men to be the best players and students that they can be. I believe those intimate experiences on the basketball floor have been the most meaningful to me."
Reid and his wife Diane are the parents of five children and they have 11 grandchildren.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company