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W&L Basketball Great Mike Neer Retires

As a basketball player at Washington and Lee in the late 1960s, Mike Neer was part of some of the most successful teams in Generals’ history. As a coach at the University of Rochester for 34 years, Mike led one of the most successful programs, on any level, in the country.

Last week Mike announced his retirement, and accolades soon followed. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle wrote: “Neer treated his players like family and his sometimes tough-love approach earned players’ respect.” Another writer for that newspaper added that “Now the University of Rochester can do what it could have done years ago — make it Mike Neer Court at the Palestra.”

Some numbers from Mike’s coaching career:

  • 563 wins vs. 316 losses, the most wins in University of Rochester history
  • 9th best record among active Division III coaches.
  • 5 NCAA Division III Final Four appearances
  • 1 NCAA Division III national championship (1990)
In a piece in the Democrat and Chronicle, Mike, 61, said “I’m not sure I’m completely sure. I don’t think there is a right time to do this. I just know that there are other things I want to do.” In that same article, he talked about what it’s been like during the years since he started coaching in 1976. Read the article here.

Mike was inducted into W&L’s Hall of Fame in 1991. During his playing career, the Generals’ three-year record was 54-19. (He transferred into the University was a sophomore.) With Mike in the lineup, W&L won College Athletic Conference titles in 1968 and 1970, and he was one of only two players in school history to have more than 1,000 points (1,289) and 1,000 rebounds (1,003) in his career. His 29 rebounds in a game against Old Dominion in 1970 is still a record, as are the 403 rebounds he had during the 1969-70 season.

While Neer was known most for basketball, he did win numerous awards as a high jumper, too. He was an All-American in 1969 and 1970 and still holds W&L’s high jump record at 6′ 8″, which he set in 1969.

After he graduated from W&L as a sociology major, Mike was invited to camp with the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals. He didn’t make the team but later played in Europe before being commissioned in the U.S. Navy. From 1972 to 1976, he was coach of the U.S. Naval Academy’s freshman (plebe) team, which compiled a 41-18 record under his leadership.