Story provided by Bethel Athletics
MISHAWAKA, Ind. - After a legendary coaching career spanning 30 years at Bethel College, his alma mater, Mike Lightfoot has announced his retirement as head men’s basketball coach following the 2016-2017 season.
“It’s just the right time,” Lightfoot said. “My entire career has been full of great, young men, the best assistant coaches, an unbelievable fan base and an amazing support staff. Bethel has truly been a blessing and I am so proud of the program we have built here. Together, we did something very special and I am excited to see how the next chapter of Bethel basketball unfolds.”
Lightfoot was hired in 1987 as Bethel’s eighth men’s basketball coach in program history following his mentor, Homer Drew. Fast forward 30 years and Lightfoot truly made the most of his time in Mishawaka, Indiana. His 777 wins is sixth-most among NAIA coaches and the highest among active NAIA D-II coaches.
Lightfoot is the quickest collegiate coach at any level to 300, 500, and 600 career wins. He accomplished those feats in 10, 18, and 22 seasons, respectively. He is also tied for the quickest to 100 and 200 career wins, accomplishing those in 4 and 8 seasons, respectively. Only the former University of Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp won 400 games quicker than Coach Lightfoot (477 games to 488).
In all, he has recorded 28 winning seasons, including ten 30-win and twenty-six 20-win seasons. He has also coached 32 NAIA All-Americans, three NAIA Players of the Year and 101 All-Crossroads League players since taking the helm of the program.
Lightfoot, who has inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2009, has coached the Pilots to 36 all-time No. 1 rankings, the most in NAIA D-II history, and holds the second-longest streak of being ranked, a streak of 76 consecutive polls from 1992-2000.
His career is nothing short of extraordinary: Three NAIA National Championships (1995, 1997, 1998), one National Runner-Up (1999), two NAIA National Coach of the Year awards, 14 tournament appearances, 18 Crossroads League championships, 13 Second Round, seven Quarterfinal and five Fab Four appearances.
“What our men’s basketball program has accomplished under Mike’s leadership has been extraordinary,” stated Bethel College Athletic Director Tom Visker. “His influence goes well beyond winning conference and national titles. Mike has been deeply committed to using the game of basketball to teach young men how to become great leaders, citizens, and followers of Jesus Christ. That is where he has made his most lasting impact. We are very grateful to Mike and his wife, Jacci, for making Bethel College basketball what it is today.”
Bethel College will honor Lightfoot’s 30 years of service when the Pilots host Grace College on Saturday, February 4 at 3:00pm.
The men’s basketball team is currently 14-3 (4-1) on the season and ranked No. 14 in the most recent NAIA D-II coaches poll.