BATESVILLE, Ark. – For the first time in 19 years, the Lyon College men's basketball team will have a new coach at the helm. After an extensive national search that involved more than 130 applicants, Lyon College Athletic Director Kevin Jenkins announced Wednesday that former Indiana University South Bend coach Chad Tapp will take over the Scots' program.
Tapp is a 2005 graduate of Taylor University in Upland, Ind., where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He went on to obtain his Masters degree in Sports Management at California University at Pennsylvania in 2008.
He is a nine-year veteran of collegiate coaching, spending the last three years leading the IUSB men's basketball program to new heights as its head coach.
He took over the Titans' program that had posted an 8-23 record in 2009-10. Tapp guided the squad to a record of 11-20 his first season, before improving that mark to 16-15 in 2011-12. IUSB recorded the school's first back-to-back winning seasons in the school's history and first 20-win season this year when it finished 20-12.
"We so exited about Chad coming to Lyon College and joining our staff," said Jenkins. "We feel that he will come in and continue to recruit outstanding student-athletes and mold our men's basketball program the way he did it at Indiana University South Bend.
"In addition to being a great coach, Chad will be a great role model for our student athletes and definitely be an outstanding addition to the Lyon College and Batesville communities. He's a great mentor, both on and off the court, and we feel very fortunate to have a coach of his caliber coming to Lyon."
Tapp played three years of collegiate basketball, starting as a freshman at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tenn., before moving on and playing for one year at Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Ill. While there, he was nominated to All-Region 24 and was chosen to play in the North-South All-Star game.
He finished his collegiate playing career at Taylor, helping the team to a 26-8 record and the Mid-Central Collegiate Conference Tournament championship and a spot in the NAIA Division I National Tournament.
Tapp began his coaching career at Taylor University in 2003, working under the direction of NAIA Hall of Fame coach Paul Patterson, who has won over 700 collegiate games.
A seven-year assistant coach for the Trojans, Tapp recruited six Top 40 athletes from the state of Indiana, 15 all-state selections from five different states and successfully brought in three NAIA All-Americans.
During tenure, he helped Taylor to three conference championships, three trips to the NAIA Division I National Tournament, including the 2006 team that advanced to the Sweet 16 round.
Tapp's 47-47 record at Indiana University South Bend includes a 25-20 record in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Titans won the most CCAC games as a member of the CCAC this past season (17). The 2012-13 season was also the highest finish by IUSB in the conference, as they placed third in the 13-team race. The Titans finished behind eventual National Champion Cardinal Stritch and Sweet 16 qualifier Saint Xavier.
In addition to improving the product on the playing floor, Tapp has also held his student-athletes to a high standard in the classroom. He inherited a program with a 1.95 GPA and improved that to an overall 2.95 GPA this past fall. Entering this season his teams have had a 100 percent graduation rate.
"It was a tough decision to leave (IUSB) because of how many good players we had coming back and the people we had involved in the program," Tapp said after accepting the position at Lyon. "I'm pretty proud of what we have accomplished in the three years at IUSB; we are definitely leaving the program in much better shape than it was when we arrived, which is what you strive to do. But the improvement was mostly due to the quality people in the program and the support we had along the way."
Tapp said there were a number of aspects about Lyon College that he liked and made him want to be a part of the Lyon community.
"One of the things that intrigued me about Lyon College is the type of school it is and the level of play we'll be involved in," he reasoned. "I'm quite familiar with the (American Midwest Conference) and the type of teams that are playing in it.
"I also liked the high standards that are throughout the conference and at Lyon College, as well. (Lyon) represents high academic standards and I have no doubt we can raise the type of basketball that we play on the court."
Tapp said he will immediately begin work recruiting for the 2013-14 squad. Slater Belew was the only senior during this past season's 9-20 team that recorded a 5-11 mark in the AMC.
"I want to start getting more of the pieces of the puzzle together, as far as adding players that will complement each other and the program," Tapp explained. "I want to begin making myself visible to high school coaches and kids in the area so I can begin building a strong base of contacts and players to recruit to Lyon College."
Tapp believes that the Scot basketball fans will be pleased with the product he plans to put on the floor next season.
"I have a background as a defensive-minded coach. Everywhere I've been we've been one of the top teams in the country, as far as points allowed. I think the lowest ranking in the country we've had was seventh, while every other year was about third or higher.
"Our fans will see teams that compete extremely hard. We'll have kids that are unselfish and play at a very high level all the time. I learned from Coach Patterson that you have to get players to perform at a high level because 'the whole has got to be greater than the sum of their parts.' So we're going out and play at that high level every day."
Tapp stated that he knows that the road ahead will have some bumps along the way, but he expects to see some success right away, so the program can build upon that and eventually play for a conference, and hopefully, a national title down the road.
Chad and his wife, Lindsey, have a 10-month old daughter, Harper.
Tapp takes over the Lyon College men's basketball program, which was led by Jenkins for the past 18 years. As a player, assistant coach and head coach, Jenkins participated in over 700 games in 29 years at Lyon, posting over 200 wins. He was also named the TranSouth Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2005-06.