Strong character and ambition played a big role in the life of Athletic Director Bob Wilson. Wilson was born in Denver, Colorado in 1947. His parents, Bob and June, were both educators in different fields. June was a kindergarten teacher and Bob was a high school basketball coach/ teacher, and for the last 20 years of his career, the Athletic Director of Denver Public Schools. Wilson spent most of his younger days tagging along to games, watching and learning from his father and the players on the team.
When Wilson got to high school, he immersed himself in the sports program, playing several sports such as basketball, football and baseball and was extremely successful in all three. By his senior year, college scouts were looking to recruit him for both basketball and football.
“I was recruited more heavily to play football, but chose to pursue basketball simply because I loved it more. Everyone thought I would end up at Colorado State University, but I chose to attend University of Wyoming because I thought the opportunity would be better, and it was,” Wilson said.
After sitting out his freshman year in accordance with the NCAA regulations, Wilson got the chance to start at point guard and play with a team that ended up being incredibly successful, winning the division and making it to the NCAA tournament in his first year of play.
“Back then that was a greater accomplishment than you would think; instead of the 64 teams that are invited to the tournament like it is today, only 16 made it. It was something to be proud of,” he said.
Success continued in Wilson’s final two years; he placed second in division his junior year, then won the division again his senior year, which allowed the team to compete in the NIT tournament both years.
In Wilson’s last game of his career, he competed against Army.
“I will never forget that game, because at that time Bobby Knight was the coach and his point guard was Mike Krzyzewski (legendary Duke basketball coach), whom I was matched up against. We only lost that game by two points, but getting to play against Mike and getting the chance to meet Coach Knight was an absolute honor,” Wilson said.
A week after his college graduation, Wilson married his girlfriend Tammy in 1969. He then spent the next two years as a graduate assistant for basketball at the University of Omaha. From there he was an assistant coach at Northern Colorado and then Colorado State for two years. His first head-coaching job was at Phillips University, where he coached and served as Athletic Director for 11 years. He then spent another 10 years at University of Hawaii.
In 1995, Wilson came to Vanguard, where he has spent the last 17 years serving as Athletic Director as well as the head basketball coach for three years. In his last year as coach, he lead the men’s team to their first national tournament in sixteen years.
Former player, Brian Roberts had this to say about him.
“Bob was instrumental in my development as a player, person, and now as a coach. He was very intense but gave his players confidence on the floor. His impact goes far beyond the basketball court, and I consider myself lucky to have played for him.”
After all was said and done, Wilson racked up 24 years, and over 742 games of coaching at the collegiate level. His success was honored in 2007, when he was inducted into the NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame.
“That honor which came to me should be attributed to the 300 people who played for me. Their hard work and dedication made my job successful.”
Since Wilson took the position in 1995, he has worked diligently to improve the school athletics, including adding both men’s swimming and polo team, giving the athletic department 17 sports. According to Wilson, the best part about being Athletic Director is working with gifted coaches and the student athletes. Seeing them overcome hardships and experience the joys of success are what make his job enjoyable. However, the worst part about being Athletic Director is the budget cuts, when his desire is to give the best to athletes. Nonetheless, Wilson works hard to give them the best with what he has been given.
“[When I eventually leave Vanguard] I want someone to say that I was a person who truly cared about athletes both athletically and academically, and helped them build in character and in the qualities of Christ.”