Since the turn of the millennium, the Ball State men’s basketball program hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament once, despite having four different head coaches. The Cardinals announced a new leader on Friday morning who they hope will get them back to the “Big Dance”.
A Jasper, Ind., native, Lewis also played college basketball at the University of Indiana from 1996 to 2000 under legendary coach Bob Knight. Lewis led the Big Ten in assists per game as a senior, averaging 5.3.
“Basketball in our state is personified in Michael Lewis,” Ball State director of athletics Beth Goetz said. “His outlook on the game, relationship building, recruiting network, pedigree and proactive approach to engagement with our stakeholders resides at a high level. Additionally, his program values and standards on the court, in the classroom and the community will create a roadmap for the Cardinals to move onward, compete for Mid-American Conference titles and position our institution for a return to the NCAA Tournament. We are thrilled to welcome him, his wife Nichole along with their daughters Avery and Emma to Ball State.”
Lewis has been an assistant coach for the last 18 years, including stops with Stephen F. Austin, Eastern Illinois, Butler, Nebraska and for the last three seasons, UCLA. The Bruins made the Final Four last season and will be playing in the Sweet 16 on Friday night.
“Along with my family, I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program at Ball State University,” Lewis said. “Thank you to University President Geoff Mearns and Beth Goetz with whom I shared a vision for our program that will be aligned with their leadership and the values of Ball State. That united vision is paramount for our success. We are very excited to return to the state of Indiana where basketball means so much to lead a program with tremendous history and great potential.”
Entering Friday, during Lewis’ three seasons with UCLA, the team has gone 68-29.