By Wayne Boykin II
Bob Burchard, athletic director and men’s basketball coach, was honored early this month by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) with their Guardian of the Game award. Burchard received the award for his leadership on the state and national levels of the high school and college basketball community.
Burchard was honored on live television during the 2010 NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis. The awards broadcast also included the presentation of coach of the year and the Naismith Trophy. Burchard’s honor, Guardian of the Game, is given to four coaches each year through a peer-election process, recognizing outstanding achievements and contributions to the game and following the game’s core values: advocacy, leadership, service and education. Burchard follows in the footsteps of several past winners in the leadership category, including George Blaney of the University of Connecticut (2009) and Harry Statham of McKendree College (2005).
Burchard has been the head coach for the Cougars for more than 22 years and has averaged almost 25 wins per year. Burchard and the Cougars have advanced to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournament 13 of the last 16 seasons, placing second in 2009.
Not only does Burchard hold leadership roles on campus, but he also has held leadership roles in the high school and college basketball community. Burchard has served as court coach with USA Basketball and was appointed to serve as the NAIA representative for USA Basketball’s Collegiate Committee in 2005. He also worked under Syracuse’s head coach, Jim Boeheim, as an NAIA representative in 2000.
Burchard said he was amazed, humbled and intimidated by the honor. He said he was intimidated by being recognized by his peers from all divisions of college basketball. Melinda Wrye-Washington, women’s volleyball coach, said, “He’s been doing this for a long time, and I think he deserves to be recognized.” President Gerald Brouder said, “It is in Bob’s character to be a guardian of the game.”
During Burchard’s time as athletic director at Columbia College, the athletic department has become one of the top athletic departments in the NAIA. All five teams have been in the NAIA top 25 at least once in the past five years. Burchard has been instrumental in the new additions to the Southwell Complex and Southy Hall. Wrye-Washington said, “When I played here (1995), none of this existed.”
Burchard said he has always wanted to coach basketball. “In an eighth-grade English paper, I wrote that I either wanted to be a high school basketball coach to teach the fundamentals or coach college basketball,” he said. “I have been lucky to be able to do both.”