Tom Billeter, the all-time winningest men’s basketball coach in Augustana College history, enters his 12th season as the head coach of the Vikings in 2014-15 and is chasing another milestone. Billeter owns a career record of 279-188 and is closing-in on his 300th career victory.
In 12 seasons at Augustana, Billeter has become the program’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 182-138 and has mentored three NSIC Freshman of the Year in Cody Schilling (2009), Cameron McCaffrey (2010) and Daniel Jansen (2013).
Billeter has also seen two of his players re-write the Augustana men’s basketball record book after Cody Schilling became Augustana’s all-time leading scorer with 1,868 points from 2008-12, McCaffrey set the bar even higher scoring the second most points in a single season in 2012-13 (659 points) to surpass Schilling becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,964 career points from 2009-13.
Following McCaffrey’s Augustana playing career, he went on to sign a professional contract with Nuova Alius Pallacanestro in San Severo, Italy, becoming the 20th player in Augustana men’s basketball history and third under the direction of Billeter to sign a professional contract.
Coming off a successful season in 2012-13 where Augustana went 22-9, marking the fourth time in six seasons a Billeter-led team produced 20 or more wins, the Vikings finished 16-14 in 2013-14 with two sophomores and four true freshman gaining valuable playing experience. For just the second time since joining the NSIC in 2008-09, Augustana had two First Team All-NSIC selections in the same season with Casey Schilling and Jansen both earning first team laurels last season. Casey Schilling went on to earn Daktronics All-Central Region Second Team honors, marking the sixth straight season Billeter has produced an All-Region caliber player.
Billeter has led Augustana to eight straight winning seasons and emerged from a field of 15 candidates to earn the 2013 Clarence “Big House” Gaines National Coach of the Year Award following the 2012-13 season. He was also a finalist for the John McLendon Coach of the Year honors that season.
Billeter has taken the Vikings to the NCAA tournament five of the last seven seasons. In 2012-13 the 24th ranked Vikings reached the semifinals of the Central Region showdown for the second time during his tenure.
Billeter notched his 200th career coaching win in 2009-2010 and approaches the 2014-15 season with an overall record of 279-188. Billeter owns an all-time conference record of 160-120, including 84-44 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference games.
In five seasons as the head coach at North Dakota State University, Billeter compiled a 97-50 record. During his tenure the Bison posted four consecutive 20-win seasons and earned four straight appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament. In 1994-95 the Bison earned a share of the North Central Conference championship with a 12-6 record. Billeter compiled a 57-33 record against NCC opposition and the Bison were three-time conference runners-up.
Billeter began his coaching career at the University of Arizona, where he worked two seasons (1985-1987) alongside legendary coach Lute Olson. The Wildcats were 23-9 in 1985-86 and won the Pac 10 Conference title. Arizona advanced to the NCAA Tournament both seasons.
During his stint in Arizona, Billeter coached Sean Elliott (NBA), Steve Kerr (NBA), Tom Tolbert (NBA), Jud Buechler (NBA) and Kenny Lofton (MLB). He then moved to Rice, where he served as an assistant coach from 1987 to 1992. The Owls won 20 games in 1991-92, the first 20-win season since 1953-54. Rice narrowly missed being awarded berths in the NCAA and NIT tournaments. While at Rice, Billeter coached the Owls’ star center, Brent Scott (NBA).
Billeter’s 29 years in coaching includes experience outside the United States. In 1996 he coached Team America, a squad composed of NCAA Division I players ages 22-and-younger. His squad participated in the Turgut Atakol Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey.
Following a five-year run at NDSU, Billeter spent the 1997-98 season at St. John’s (N.Y.), where he served under head coach Fran Fraschilla and helped the Red Storm to a 22-10 record. Led by Felipe Lopez (NBA) and Ron Artest (NBA), St. John’s advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Billeter then began a five-year run at Texas A&M under head coach Melvin Watkins. Together they helped the Aggies gain respect in the Big 12 Conference. In 2002-03, the Aggies posted a 14-14 record marking just the second .500 or better season in 14 years. While with the Aggies Billeter had the opportunity to coach prominent players including Bernard King and Antoine Wright (NBA). King is Texas A&M’s career scoring leader and the second all-time leading scorer in the history of the Big 12. Wright was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2002-03.
Billeter earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Illinois in 1983 and his master’s degree in exercise physiology from Arizona in 1987. Tom and his wife, Paula, are the parents of four children: Mike (Lindsie), Kelsey, Kyle, and Brett.