By JOANNE FOX
Record win totals, sold-out crowds, regular-season and tournament titles are part of the legacy that Coach Greg McDermott has created in his seven seasons at Jesuit-run Creighton University, Omaha.
“One of the Jesuit values is to be women and men for and with others – sharing gifts, pursuing justice and having concern for the poor and marginalized,” he said. “I try to live my life with these thoughts in mind.”
McDermott, who was named head basketball coach of the Bluejays in 2010, will share those successes and insights at the 21st Annual Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools. The dinner is set for Oct. 1 at the Sioux City Convention Center.
The Cascade, Iowa, native agreed to be the keynote speaker based on “great things” he had heard about the event.
“As a product of a Catholic education through eighth grade, I fully understand the role that Catholic schools play in the development of young people,” McDermott insisted. “I look forward to seeing a great crowd on Oct. 1.”
Named the 16th head coach in Creighton men’s basketball history in 2010, McDermott has gone 166-82 in his first seven seasons, while returning the program to the national rankings with an up-tempo style of play that has fans turning out in record numbers.
Last year’s Bluejay team went 25-10, spending 16 consecutive weeks in the top-25. CU finished fifth nationally in home attendance, welcoming 17,413 fans per contest.
A fourth-team All-State center for Cascade High School in 1983, the 6-foot-8 center was named to the Iowa High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2015 for his playing prowess.
Following graduation, McDermott accepted a scholarship offer to play for the UNI Panthers. He recorded 1,033 career points and ranks 36th on UNI’s all-time scoring chart. McDermott was awarded a B.A. degree from Northern Iowa in 1988. He played one season professionally in Switzerland after graduation before beginning his coaching career.
Before coming to Creighton, McDermott had spent four seasons as head coach at Iowa State University, Ames. McDermott won 59 games at Iowa State, where his teams consistently ranked in the upper half of the Big 12 in scoring defense and three-point shooting.
After taking over a program that had not posted a winning season in years, McDermott launched his alma mater, Northern Iowa, into the national spotlight. He compiled a 90-63 record at UNI, earning him a spot in the school’s Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.
McDermott’s first head coaching job was at Wayne (Neb.) State from 1994 to 2000. He led the Wildcats to four-straight 20-win seasons, one Northern Sun Conference title and a pair of NCAA Division II Tournament appearances. He earned conference coach of the year honors in 2000.
He left Wayne State to take over the coaching duties at Division II North Dakota State for one season (2000-01) before heading to Cedar Falls. The Bison finished 15-11 overall and defeated three top-25 opponents.
McDermott began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of North Dakota from 1989 to 1994. During his tenure, UND made five consecutive NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, was ranked No. 1 in the final 1991 NCAA poll.
McDermott and his wife, Theresa, have three children: Nick, Doug and Sydney. After playing for his father at Creighton for four seasons, Doug was drafted into the National Basketball Association. He played three seasons with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools is the single largest fundraiser benefiting diocesan Catholic schools, which provide more than 6,000 students with a faith-based education. All 16 Catholic school systems in the diocese benefit from the dinner.
McDermott emphasized the importance of Catholic schools and how they enhanced his life will be at the heart of his speech.
“My hope is to share some of the ways that I feel a Catholic education has shaped my life,” the 52-year-old said.
Last year, the 20th Bishop’s Dinner featured keynote speaker Al Roker from NBC’s Today Show and drew one of the event’s all-time biggest crowds with about 720 people in attendance. It raised more than $200,000 for Catholic schools.
Tickets for this year’s dinner are now on sale and can be purchased at scdiocese.org or by calling the Diocese of Sioux City at (712) 255-7933.