Meyer Dinner serves as stage to unveil National Bison Club

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On a night when a key figure in the history of Lipscomb athletics was honored, a new vision was also revealed.

Former Lipscomb basketball coach Don Meyer, the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, was the featured speaker at the inaugural Don Meyer Evening of Excellence Tuesday night. More than 600 people dined on roast beef at a VIP dinner on the floor of Allen Arena while several hundred more attended dinners for various sports programs.

Coach Meyer is now head basketball coach at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

Everyone was invited to hear coach Meyer in his keynote address following the dinners. More than 600 people attended the VIP dinner with approximately 600 more scattered around the various team dinners. More than 2,000 were in Allen Arena for Meyer’s keynote address. Included in the crowd were many former athletes, fans and friends of the program who had not been seen on campus in quite some time prompting Philip Hutcheson, Lipscomb's Director of Athletics, to call it a "family reunion".

The biggest announcement of the evening was the formation of the National Bison Club (NBC) which will be providing financial support for Lipscomb’s 17 varsity sports. The announcement was made by Hutcheson.

The motto is “Be a Bison for Life”. Hutcheson also announced that Andy Lane, formerly the director of operations, is the executive director of the National Bison Club.

“Andy has more than 20 years here at Lipscomb,” said Hutcheson. “I couldn’t be more excited about Andy taking over this role.”

Hutcheson used three of Meyer’s guidelines for his players as the basis of what the athletic program wants to do in the future.

The first was “pick up trash” which means to leave a place better than it was when you first found it. Hutcheson stressed that the goal of the athletic department is to make things even better.

Second, coach Meyer always stressed saying “please”, “thank you”, “yes mam” and “yes sir”. A lot of times it is the little things that make the difference in a ball game, in business, in the classroom or in life.

“The little things are what really matter,” said Hutcheson. “We are trying to stress that with all of our athletic teams.”

Third, he always stressed that everyone should take notes in an effort to improve, another area where the athletic department is working as the programs continue to improve in all areas.

“Places like Lipscomb and Northern State are places where quality and excellence are important,” said Meyer. “You have to be a competitor. If you are competing you don’t have time to complain. Competitors are too busy getting things done.”

The new National Bison Club will have an emphasis on “national”. The National Bison Club will help provide the daily support that athletics teams need such as airline tickets and van and bus rentals for away games, hotel rooms and food.

“We want to continue to reach our fans in the Nashville community and we do a good job of that, but we also want to reach farther,” said Hutcheson. “We need your support.”

Before the start of the keynote address there was a video presentation about coach Meyer produced by Nelson Eddy and Jimmy Chaffin at Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence Public Relations and Advertising.

State Senator Jim Tracy presented coach Meyer with a proclamation from the State of Tennessee honoring his coaching record.

Coach Meyer was introduced by Buster Olney, ESPN senior writer, who covered the Lipscomb Bisons when he was reporter for the old Nashville Banner.

Lipscomb Lady Bisons basketball coach Frank Bennett closed out the evening with a prayer.

The dinner and keynote address were all parts of a busy day for coach Meyer. He spoke at a chapel service, spent two hours with coaches at lunch and then met with several members of the media. The lunch with the coaches was especially significant since the food was provided by Captain D’s, one of coach Meyer’s favorite restaurants when he lived in Nashville.

Dairy King provided the food for the dinners.

In Meyer’s keynote address he spoke of how he felt that Philip Hutcheson, one of his former players, was the only choice to be the next director of athletics at Lipscomb.

“I am here because of Hutch,” said Meyer. “I wanted him to get this job. I felt if the school didn’t make that choice they would be making a very, very tragic mistake. I hope he will prove me right as time goes on.

“I think Hutch is going to be an outstanding athletic director. I believe he has the ability to get the most for and the most out of each sport.”

Meyer stressed that Hutcheson has everything that Warren Buffett looks for in the people he hires in the financial world.

“Hutch has the work ethic, the intelligence and the character,” said Meyer. “And the first two, without the last one, will kill you. But he has character and the coaches know that.

“He has the ability to the most for and most out of each sport. And he will spend as much time on programs that are not revenue sports as he will the revenue sports.”

Coach Meyer also talked about the visionary qualities of Hutcheson.

“He can see the picture,” said Meyer. “You know he can sell the picture. And then he will get everybody to paint the picture. He won’t try to do it all by himself. That is what will make the situation great.”

Meyer directed the Bisons to the NAIA National Championship in 1986. He produced, an all-time collegiate record 41 wins in a season and more wins than any NCAA men’s basketball coach in history. The program under coach Meyer also produced the top two scorers in collegiate history along with the all-time career leaders in 3-point shooting, steals and assists. Coach Meyer also produced three national players of the year and 22 All-Americans. His camps are legendary and have attracted instructors ranging from John Wooden to Pat Summitt.

Meyer talked of the automobile accident that almost cost him his life this past fall, and did cost him part of one leg. The portion of the leg that remains is known as “Little Buddy”. He gave the audience a glimpse of the excruciating pain he endured, especially when his bandages needed to be changed. He talked of faith, family and friends, the “F” words that mean so much in everyone’s life.