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Veteran basketball coach Royce Waltman passes away

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tom101010.

Coach spent four successful stints at Indiana programs

Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 12:28 am

Longtime basketball coach Royce Waltman, 72, passed away Monday evening following a battle with cancer in recent years.

He had been hospitalized this winter at Prairie Lakes Health Campus in Noblesville after suffering a stroke in early February.

"In just learning of the passing of Coach Waltman, we have profound sadness and feel for his wife, Carole, and everyone in his family," Indiana University men's basketball coach Tom Crean said in a release. "Royce was a very special person who gave so much to the game of basketball and without question impacted everyone he coached, worked with and supported."

He was a 1964 graduate of Slippery Rock University, where he lettered in basketball and baseball. The Ellerslie, Md. native got his first head coaching opportunity at Bedford (Pa.) High School, where he served as head coach for 15 seasons, winning 276 games, 11 league titles, and seven district championships. It was during that stint that he began a lifelong friendship with then-Army men's basketball coach Bob Knight.

After Knight took over at Indiana University, Knight hired Waltman as an assistant in 1982. He stayed with the Hoosiers through the 1987 season. While in Bloomington, Waltman helped with the 1984 United States Olympic gold medal-winning men's basketball squad, as well as with the 1987 NCAA national championship Hoosiers.

Following the national title game, Waltman accepted the head coaching position at Division III DePauw University and led the Tigers to their greatest success in program history.

The 1990 Tigers team advanced to the NCAA Division III national championship game, where it fell to the University of Rochester 43-42.

Waltman's DePauw teams won 100 games in five seasons, played in three NCAA Tournaments and won the 1990 Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference championship.

The 1991-92 DePauw team spent the early portion of that season ranked number one in the nation.

Waltman, his coaching staff, and his 1990 team were inducted into the DePauw University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.

In 1992, he accepted the head coaching position at NCAA Division II University of Indianapolis and again, found success.

After years of struggling prior to Waltman's arrival, Indianapolis fell one last-second basket in the 1992-93 season finale from achieving a winning record (finishing 13-14) in his first season with the Greyhound program. But he guided Indianapolis to 17, 16, 20 and 23 victories over the next four seasons.

Indianapolis advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1996 and 1997, and was ranked number one in the nation during portions of the 1996-97 season.

The Greyhounds tied for the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship that year.

In his five seasons at Indianapolis, Waltman won 103 games and in March 1997, accepted the head coaching position with Indiana State.

A similar story unfolded, as Waltman quickly turned around a Sycamore program that had been mediocre to bad for the better part of two decades.

In his first season in Terre Haute, Waltman won 16 games and followed that with seasons of 15, 22 and 22 victories. The 1999-2000 squad won the Missouri Valley Conference championship and advanced to Indiana State's first NCAA Tournament since Larry Bird played for the Sycamores in 1978-79.

The Sycamores played in the 2000-2001 NCAA Tournament, as well, and advanced to the second round.

Hard times fell upon the program following that season, as Indiana State endured six consecutive losing seasons and Waltman was relieved of his duties following the 2006-07 season. He won 134 games during his decade in Terre Haute.

He later served as the interim coach at Indianapolis for a year, when his former protege, Todd Sturgeon, resigned shortly before a season's start, and also assisted at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis.

Waltman finished his career with a 337-263 record.

His final position in the sport was serving as analyst for Indiana basketball beginning in the 2010-11 season before taking a leave of absence in December of last year.

"His knowledge of the game and ability to teach it was only eclipsed by the way he made you feel when you were with him," Crean said. "Personally, I respected him long before I came to Indiana.

"In getting to know Royce here, I was incredibly fortunate to have become his friend. The genuine respect he would impart on me and the program was heartfelt and will always be remembered."

He is survived by his wife Carole, daughter Suzanne, and son Kevin.

A visitation will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by a celebration of life at 4 p.m. at St. Luke's Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St., Indianapolis.