Coming off the recent 2016 Division III national championship, former Tommie standout player John Tauer enters his ninth season as St. Thomas' head coach in 2019-20.
Twice named a Division III National Coach of the Year -- in 2013 by Basketball Times, and in 2016 by the National Basketball Coaches' Association and by D3 News -- Tauer also has received three West Region and four MIAC Coach of the Year Awards.
Among Division III men's coaches, he was the second fastest in history to 100 victories and is believed to have won more games in his first five seasons than any coach in Division III history.
Tauer’s first eight teams compiled a 185-47 overall mark (.797 win clip). Tauer's winning percentage ranks in the top 10 of all 1,000+ NCAA coaches. That includes a 140-31 record against conference opponents, a 7-for-8 run in MIAC regular-season championships (solo or shared), and an 20-11 postseason record.
He was the first MIAC coach to sweep conference and playoff championships in each of his first two seasons as head coach. He’s also the lone conference individual -- and one of a small number of coaches nationally -- to have played in, been an assistant coach, and been a head coach at the Division III Final Four. In addition, he is the first MIAC coach to win regular-season titles in each of his first six seasons.
Tauer is just the third head coach for St. Thomas men’s basketball since 1954. He’s continued an impressive tradition that has the Tommies ranked No. 3 among all 400-plus Division III programs in all-time victories.
In the last 14 seasons alone from 2005-19, St. Thomas has:
- won two national titles (2011, 2016), with two other top-five NCAA finishes;
- won an unprecedented 12 consecutive MIAC championships;
- made 12 consecutive NCAA appearances from 2005-2017; has an overall record of 314-65 (.828 win %);
- has a conference regular-season record of 247-42 (.855 win %).
Over the last 12 years, St. Thomas' winning percentage ranks near the top of Division III, with a 287-63 record (.820 win %), including a 200-36 slate against conference opposition and four 30 win seasons.
Since 2010, St. Thomas football and men's hoops has one of the three best combined winning percentage among 660 NCAA institutions at all levels that sponsor both sports.
Just two NCAA institutions over the previous 11 seasons -- Ohio State and St. Thomas -- have averaged 24 men’s basketball victories and 11 football victories a season.
Tauer’s first Tommie team swept to a regular-season and conference playoff title. St. Thomas made the NCAA Tournament and upset 10th ranked Claremont McKenna before but bowed out in the opening round to eventual national champion UW-Whitewater, finishing with a 22-7 record.
In 2012-13, UST was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the regular season, tied a school-record with 30 victories, advanced to the Division III Final Four for the third time in school history, and set all-time program records for FG% and 3-point FG%. In addition, St. Thomas led the country in wins, winning percentage, FG%, and scoring margin, and was second in the country in assist-turnover ratio and 3-point FG %. Tauer was named MIAC Coach of the Year, NABC West District Coach of the Year, d3hoops.com West Region Coach of the Year, and Basketball Times’ Division III National Coach of the Year.
In 2013-14, Tauer led the Tommies to a conference regular-season crown and a MIAC playoff title-game appearance. St. Thomas once again advanced to the NCAA Tournament and dropped an opening-round game to finish the season at 23-5, 18-2.
The 2014-15 team won both the regular-season and the conference playoff title. The Tommies made it to the NCAA playoffs but lost in the opening round on a buzzer-beating 3 pointer. They finished the season 24-4, 18-2.
In 2015-2016, the Tommies found themselves back on top of the conference, advancing once again to the NCAA Tournament. The Tommies knocked off No. 1-ranked Augustana (Ill.) on the road in the Elite 8; bested No. 4-ranked Christopher Newport (Va.) in the semifinals, and finally took down unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Benedictine (Ill.) in the championship to claim the program's second NCAA title in six years. Navigating one of the toughest roads they could have, the Tommies defeated four teams ranked in the top 7 in the final poll, along with Elmhurst who was ranked as high as No. 2 earlier in the season. Tauer was named MIAC Coach of the Year, NABC West District Coach of the Year, d3hoops.com West Region Coach of the Year, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III National Coach of the Year.
In 2018-19, The Toms won 21 consecutive games en route to the MIAC crown. Tauer's team eliminated No. 1-ranked Nebraska Wesleyan on the road in the NCAA playoffs to advance to the Sweet 16.
Prior to Steve Fritz’ retirement in 2011, Tauer was an assistant coach for 11 years under Fritz. An All-MIAC and Academic All-America Tommie player under Fritz in the 1990s, has 19 seasons with Tommie basketball. During that time, he ran the St. Thomas defense for two seasons (2001-2003) and for the past 10 years he directed the Tommies' offensive sets and coordinated recruiting. UST’s offense during that time has consistently ranked among the best in NCAA basketball in field-goal percentage, 3-point proficiency and assist-to-turnover ratio.
"I consider John Tauer to be one of the top young talents in college basketball coaching," head coach Steve Fritz said upon his retirement. "He has a terrific basketball mind and a total grasp of all aspects of the college game. John will be a very successful college head coach.”
Tauer was inducted into the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. He was an All-MIAC player, first team All-West Region, and Academic All-America, and as a senior led the 1994-95 Toms to a school-record 27-0 start, including an MIAC championship with an unprecedented 20-0 record. Tauer ranks 14th in career scoring (1,219 points) and 15th in career rebounding (482) at St. Thomas, and was the school 3-point leader until 1999-2000. He ranks sixth on the MIAC all-time list for 3-point baskets. He also helped the 1993-94 Toms to a berth in the Division III Final Four.
Prior to attending St. Thomas, Tauer graduated from Cretin-Derham Hall, where he was named all-state in both basketball and baseball, captain of both sports, and won state championships in baseball (1990) and basketball (1991).
Tauer served as Fritz’ defensive coordinator for two seasons (2001-2003), both of which were years St. Thomas won conference titles. Tauer turned his attention to the offensive side of the ball in 2003 and helped develop the Tommies’ uptempo offense, which is predicated on balance, shot selection, and teamwork. St. Thomas was the only school in NCAA men’s basketball (Division I, II, III) to be in the top 12 in the country in three-point field-goal percentage from 2004-07. In 2008-09, St. Thomas led more than 400 Division III teams in assist-turnover ratio.
During Tauer’s 19 years of coaching, St. Thomas has broken season records for victories, winning percentage, and highest field-goal percentage. He’s helped the Tommies build an MIAC regular-season record of 323-72 (.818 win %) with 15 conference titles, nine MIAC playoff championships, and 14 NCAA playoff appearances.
Add in his four-year playing career, and the St. Thomas teams he's been affiliated with have claimed 18 MIAC crowns and made 17 NCAA appearances in his 23 years at UST.
An NCAA Postgraduate Scholar and Academic All-America honoree, Tauer earned Master’s and PhD degrees in Social Psychology at UW-Madison. Tauer returned to campus and joined the St. Thomas faculty in 2000. He is also a tenured member of the faculty, one of the only head college basketball coaches in the nation who also has a doctorate in sport-related psychology. Tauer is a Professor of Psychology where he studies factors that affect academic and athletic motivation. He published a book in 2016 on youth sports, parents, and motivation, titled “Why Less is More for WOSPs (Well-Intentioned, Overinvolved Sports Parents): How to be the best Sports Parent You Can Be.”
Thousands of youth basketball players have attended the Johnny Tauer Championship Basketball Camps over the past 24 years, including notable UST players Isaac Rosefelt, Alex McCoy, Mike Keating, Josh Peltier, Tommy Hannon, and John Nance.
"I am thrilled by the opportunity to be the head men’s basketball coach St. Thomas. I was fortunate to have coached under Steve for 11 years as well as play for him. He has been an unbelievable mentor to me and so many others, and he is the common link with St. Thomas basketball for the previous 45 years. I’m also indebted to all of my colleagues in the psychology department who have been wonderful to work with these past 13 years. We are also grateful for the support of President (Julie) Sullivan and the administration’s support of our pursuit of excellence in men’s basketball and across all of our athletic teams.
"Our priorities and mission in the basketball program have been and will continue to be Faith, Family, Academics, and Athletics. We encourage our players to honor the first two and excel in the last two as we strive to be in the upper echelon of college basketball.
“This position gives me a chance to blend two of my passions – the classroom and the basketball court. In many ways, teaching is coaching and coaching is teaching. My situation has been unique because what I study in psychology (intrinsic motivation, competition, and goal-setting) is closely tied to my work as a basketball coach. We have a coaching staff and group of student-athletes who are committed to working together in the pursuit of excellence. We are excited by the many challenges in front of us, this year and beyond.”
Tauer lives in St. Paul with his sons Jack (16) and Adam (14).
John Tauer Year-By-Year
2011-12---22-7---------16-4 (tie 1st)
2016-17---19-8---------15-5 (tie 1st)
2017-18---14-12-------12-8 (tie fifth)
Totals/185-47 (.797)---133-27 (.831)