A longtime Hope College assistant coach has been named the school's next head men's basketball coach.
Matt Neil, 49, a standout Hope player in the early 1980s and a member of the coaching staff since 1985, will succeed Glenn Van Wieren who retired this spring after heading the program for 33 seasons.
His appointment follows a national search for a coach to direct the tradition-rich men's basketball program.
"Matt is passionate about HopeCollege and fully committed to its mission, is an effective recruiter and game strategist, and is known throughout the extended Hope community. Matt is very well prepared to lead the HopeCollege men's basketball program into this new era," said Dr. Mark Northuis, chair of the department of kinesiology who led the search committee."
Neil becomes just the fourth Hope men's basketball coach over the past 62 seasons.
"I am truly humbled to become the head men's basketball coach at an institution that stands for excellence in so many ways, and at the place that helped me grow into the person I am today," said Neil. "In academics, in athletics, and in enriching lives, HopeCollege continues to strive to follow God's leading, which is what we all strive for in our personal lives.
"I have been privileged to be part of coach Van Wieren's staff for the past 26 years. He has modeled excellence as a coach, as a mentor, as a family man of faith and a friend.
"My desire at Hope is to continue to provide our students with experiences that allow them to fully realize the plan that God has for their lives. With the anchor holding fast to traditions of the past, new rope will be attached that will continue to model excellence in the classroom, on the basketball court, and in service to the wonderful community of Holland."
A point of pride for Van Wieren was the continuity of his coaching staff. Neil served as the program's junior varsity coach for nine years (1985-1994) and has been a varsity assistant coach with responsibilities for post players since 1995.
His involvement in Hope basketball has extended beyond coaching. He founded Hope'spopular student cheering section, The Dew Crew, and he has used his vocal talents to sing the National Anthem before games many times over the years. He is in demand as a clinician and speaker at basketball coaching clinics throughout the Midwest.
His path to head coach parallels that of Van Wieren who excelled as a Hope player, served on the coaching staff after graduation and was named to the top spot upon the retirement of his mentor.
Neil was an all-conference (MIAA) forward as both a junior and senior and was named the league's most valuable player his senior season.
He received the masters degree from GrandValleyStateUniversity in 1992.
Neil has been employed in the Holland Public Schools system since 1982 and is currently a middle school mathematics teacher.
He will have the academic rank of Assistant Professor of Kinesiology.
Neil and his wife Kim have four children. Kendra is a 2009 Hope graduate and Logan is a current Hope student who plays both soccer and basketball. Grant and Ellary are high school students.