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Piv pivots: A great run for a great coach

Piv pivots: A great run for a great coach

PHOTO: Mike Keating (left) and Jay Pivec celebrate the 2016 NCAA title.


After working in basketball as a head or assistant coach for 1,132 games over 40 seasons, Jay Pivec is ready for life's next chapter.

Pivec told St. Thomas head coach John Tauer this week of his plans to retire from the bench. Family, friends and fishing will help fill the void.

Pivec -- or Piv as he is affectionately known in the world of basketball -- capped his career with a five-year run on Tauer's staff, which was highlighted by a hand in the Tommies' 2016 NCAA championship.

Pivec's overall head collegiate coaching record was 605-258, His greatest success came during a 20-year span from 1990-2010 at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He inherited a program that was winless in the previous season and took it to consistent excellence on the national level. In building a 452-115 record, he coached nine NJCAA first team All-Americas, was named MCAC Coach of the Year nine times, and NJCAA National Coach of the Year in 2009. Piv was inducted into the MCAC Hall Of Fame in 2002 and the NJCAA Hall Of Fame in 2010.

Pivec's college coaching career also included stops as an assistant at Minnesota State University-Mankato, Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota; and as head coach at Jamestown College, and Montana State-Northern. Pivec came to the Tommies after his previous stint as the inaugural head coach of the Dakota County Technical College Blue Knights in nearby Rosemount, an NJCAA member institution. Pivec's team went 42-18 in DCTC's first two years of competition.


People Person

A relationship builder throughout his career, Piv has maintained lasting relationships with the vast majority of his former players, coaching staff assistants, opposing coaches, administrators and yes, even game officials.

A piece of Pivec has graced several MIAC programs.

"I coached new Cobber head coach at Grant Hemmingson at MCTC," Pivec said. "St. Mary's head coach Jamie Rusthoven was an assistant for me at MCTC. Assistant coach Ed Cassidy at Hamline was an assistant for me at DCTC. Josh Franzen, another assistant coach at Hamline, played for me at MCTC, Longtime assistant at St Olaf John Mahal played for me at MCTC.  

"I've been blessed to have had a phenomenal run," Pivec said. "While having an average high-school career as a player, and no college playing experience, I ended up pursuing the one work- related passion I had, Dr. Naismith's game, basketball. To end my run at the University of St Thomas was nothing short of spectacular. My relationship with Coach John Tauer runs deep. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity John provided me five years ago. A record of 110-31, four MIAC titles and of course the national championship in 2016. Will someone pinch me?"

Tauer said, "Coach Piv is a legendary figure in the coaching world. His successes are numerous, from 605 career wins to a parade of coaching accolades too numerous to list. The countless close relationships he has built with people surpass his statistical accomplishments.

"I've known Jay since I was in high school. During that time he has been a friend, mentor, and colleague. His five years with us was spectacular, highlighted by the 2016 National Championship, but marked even more on a daily basis by the impact he had on our student-athletes. Jay had the rare ability as a head coach for 30 years to become an assistant at the end of his career, and he did it exceptionally well.

"His contributions to our university were numerous. We will miss his spirit, energy, and passion, both for the game of basketball and for life. Jay is a dear friend and coaching with him the past five years has been an amazing experience. We will miss Piv, but we know he will continue following the Tommies. We wish him and his wonderful wife Mary Louise all the best now and in the future!"


Pivec and his daughter Katie were recently profiled in a story in the Star Tribune. You can read that story here