SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Lawrence Technological University has taken the first steps in reviving its proud basketball heritage with the hiring of Thomas Kempf as head coach for men’s varsity basketball and Mary Pinkowski as head coach for women’s varsity basketball.
Lawrence Tech joined the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) earlier this year and will begin competing in the NAIA’s Wolverine and Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) in both men’s and women’s basketball for the 2012-13 season. While the men’s team is restarting a tradition from 50 years ago, the women’s program will be brand new.
For the past eight years Kempf was assistant coach at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, which during his tenure won several WHAC championships and qualified for the NAIA national tournament four years in a row.
For 20 years Kempf was the athletic director and coach of both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, where he also taught. He was the first Michigan coach to win state championships with both the boys’ and girls’ teams.
He also was an assistant coach for the men’s varsity team at his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
“Tom is ideal for this position at Lawrence Tech because of his knowledge of recruiting, his experience within the NAIA and the WHAC conference, and his long history of success at the college level,” said Scott Trudeau, director of recreation, athletics and wellness at Lawrence Tech. “We are confident he will put together a very competitive team for our first season and revive our proud Blue Devils basketball tradition.”
For the past five years, Pinkowski was head women’s basketball coach at the University of Michigan at Dearborn, where she was also director of the campus Wellness Center. Her 2008-09 team set the school record for most victories with 16.
Pinkowski served as WHAC conference chair for women’s basketball and was named the WHAC Champions of Character coach of the year in 2010.
“Women’s basketball is brand new at Lawrence Tech, so it is important to have a coach who knows what is expected by the NAIA and the WHAC,” Trudeau said. “Since Mary is so well known and respected around the state, I wouldn’t be surprised if she is competing for a league title within her first two years.”
Pinkowski also coached basketball for four seasons at Webber International University in Florida. As the head coach in 2005-06 season, she led the team to a 35-22 record (10-0 in conference play) and a berth in the NAIA National Tournament.
“I’m really excited to be starting a new program and establishing a new tradition at Lawrence Tech,” Pinkowski said. “We will get to set the bar and the standards.”
In the 1940s and early 1950s, the Lawrence Tech Blue Devils were a national powerhouse in basketball and represented Michigan in the National Invitational Tournament and numerous NAIA tournaments. Varsity athletics were suspended in the 1960s due to lack of playing and practice facilities.
Athletic activities were revived on campus in 1987 with the opening of the Don Ridler Field House, and the university has been upgrading its athletic facilities this year following its acceptance by the NAIA.
“Our biggest task will be to get our name out there to basketball players,” Kempf said. “Lawrence Tech has always had a reputation for academics, and high school athletes are looking for that in a college. They just haven’t heard about Lawrence Tech.”
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, offers more than 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey, Traverse City and Toronto. Lawrence Tech also partners with universities in Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.