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VU celebrates the illustrious career of retiring Athletic Director and Hall of Fame Women's Basketball coach Harry Meeks

Harry Meeks photo

April 25, 2024

VINCENNES, Ind. - After 33 years of outstanding service to Vincennes University, Athletic Director and Hall of Fame Women’s Basketball Coach Harry Meeks will retire in June 2024, leaving a legacy of excellence and unparalleled impact on VU Athletics and beyond.

According to VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson, Meeks’ leadership has elevated VU Athletics and profoundly influenced the lives of many.

Johnson said, “In Harry Meeks, Vincennes University has not just had a coach or an athletic director, but a true leader whose fervent dedication has been the bedrock of the VU Athletics Department. His steady hands have guided our athletics programs and shaped the lives of countless VU student-athletes, VU coaches, VU alumni, and the broader University Community. It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside Coach Meeks, witnessing firsthand the enormous impact he has made locally as well throughout the State of Indiana and nationally.”

Johnson continued, “His legacy at Vincennes University is one of excellence, integrity, and distinction in the classroom as well as on the court or field of competition. As we celebrate his retirement, Vincennes University does so with immense gratitude for his tireless efforts, unending passion, and the enduring legacy he leaves behind at VU. His impact on Vincennes University will be felt for generations to come.”

Meeks announced his retirement on April 24 at the VU Trailblazer All Sports Banquet, allowing the VU Community and University supporters to celebrate him and his distinguished career. 

VU Hall of Fame Men’s Basketball Coach Todd Franklin paid heartfelt homage to Meeks.

“Everyone needs to give this some real thought and perspective,” Franklin said. “He’s an 82-year-old man who has been running the Athletics Department and has been the Women’s Basketball Coach. A lot of our young athletes might want to think about how to aspire to do that. At 82 years old, he has spent his entire life in this, and that is an impressive thing to do.”

Since he joined VU in 1991 as the fourth Women’s Basketball Coach, Meeks has established a standard of excellence, making him the most successful coach in program history. He assumed the role of Athletic Director in 2010 after serving as interim, and his tenure has been characterized by several national championships, All-American Student-Athletes, and Academic All-American Student-Athletes.

Under his leadership, Women's Basketball has achieved remarkable success, boasting an impressive record of 750 wins and 283 losses for a 72.6 winning percentage.

Meeks' outstanding achievements have garnered recognition in Indiana and nationally. He entered the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2020.

His dedication to excellence extends to other sports as well. VU Athletics has produced eight team national championships with Meeks as athletic director, including the 2019 Men’s Basketball, 2011 Tennis, 2013, 2016, and 2018 Men’s Golf, and 2010, 2012, and 2014 Bowling teams. The Track and Field program has also produced numerous individual national championships with Meeks at the helm.

Beyond the athletics arena, Meeks has been a driving force in fostering academic success and personal growth among student-athletes. Last year’s grade point average for the Women’s Basketball program was an impressive 3.437, while the last complete cohort shows VU Athletics programs had a 67 percent graduation rate. Meeks’ commitment to the total development of student-athletes is evident in the Women’s Basketball team's exceptional 92.3 percent graduation rate recently.

Dr. Christy Kellams, an orthopedic surgeon and former VU women’s basketball player, attributes much of her success to Meeks. He saw her potential and promised to elevate her game. Under his mentorship, she flourished, earning a full-ride scholarship to Arizona State University. 

Kellams said, “I had two aspirations as a young person. I wanted to play Division I basketball and I wanted to go to medical school. In high school, I started to see that dream to play Division I basketball was probably just that. It was probably just a dream, but then one evening, he was at Springs Valley recruiting me to play basketball at Vincennes. I'll never forget what he told me the first time we spoke. I'm not certain it was a compliment but it was honest. He said, “You know Kellams you're not really that good of a ballplayer but you hit the floor more than the ball does and if you continue to hustle like that, I think I can teach you how to play basketball and I think I can get you to that next level.” He delivered on that statement, and I got a full-ride scholarship to play two more years of basketball at the Division I level at Arizona State University.”

Grateful for his guidance, Kellams pursued her second dream of attending medical school.

“In the two years, I was at Vincennes we won over 65 basketball games and we maybe lost five or six,” she said. “It is impressive the amount of games that we won but his lessons have lived on long after those games were won. His dedication and direction to me as a student-athlete taught me about commitment and perseverance, and he inspired me to always do my best no matter what I was doing whether that be on or off the court. It has been said the height of a tree is determined by the depth of its roots. I want to say thank you to him for being a part of my roots. That has helped me grow tall as a person. I’ve used all those skills that he taught me and was able to go on to achieve that next aspiration. I will always be grateful to him and his late wife, Martha Meeks, for the impact they’ve had on my life, and I will carry and treasure those things forever.”

Additionally, his deep commitment to breast cancer awareness and community-based initiatives like the Play 4 Kay campaign that supports the Kay Yow Cancer Fund demonstrates that his values and influence extend far beyond VU.

Becoming a Coaching Legend

Meeks has enjoyed success at the NJCAA women’s basketball level in addition to the NCAA Division I men’s college basketball ranks and high school boys level.

He took over as women’s basketball coach before the 1991-92 season. The following year, he led VU to its best record ever, 32-2, and a fifth-place finish in the NJCAA Division I National Championship Tournament. Another highlight of his VU tenure was the 1997-98 team reeling off 29 consecutive wins to start the season.

Meeks recorded his 700th career win at VU on March 13, 2021, and passed Hall of Fame Coach Dan Sparks for the most wins in VU basketball history on April 1, 2021, with his 707th career win.

In 33 years at VU, he has enjoyed 23 seasons of winning 20 or more games and 11 NJCAA National Tournament appearances.

Under his guidance, 91 women’s basketball student-athletes successfully transitioned to play at the four-year level, with many moving on to prestigious NCAA Division I programs such as Alabama, Oregon, Louisville, Utah State, and New Mexico recently.

Meeks has coached 26 of VU’s 30 Women’s Basketball All-Americans, further solidifying his reputation as a coaching legend. VU’s NJCAA All-Americans during Meeks' tenure include 2011 State Farm/Women's Basketball Coaches Association Junior College Player of the Year Jasmine McGhee as well as 2014 All-American Anya Kalenta. Both players were honored following their Trailblazer careers by the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame for their outstanding play.

The Trailblazers compiled a 19-11 overall record this past season with freshman Destinee Hooks earning 2024 Region 24 Player of the Year honors, as well as being named Freshman of the Year in Region 24 and a 2nd Team All-American, while sophomore Elikya Baseyila earned All-Region 24 honors for the second time.

How It All Started

Meeks began his coaching career at Danville, Virginia, in 1973 and later coached at a military prep school in Woodstock, Virginia. He led an Alabama high school boy's team for three years before he arrived at VU. As the smallest school in that state's largest enrollment classification, the high school program had won only five games in the four seasons before Meeks took over.

He coached for 11 years in the men's college basketball ranks before accepting the Alabama high school position. He was an assistant coach at Western Carolina for five seasons, served as an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati for four years, and worked for two seasons at Virginia Tech. 

A U.S. Navy veteran and native of Staunton, Virginia, Meeks holds a master's degree from Virginia Tech. He and Martha are parents of two daughters, Molly and Melanie. Molly played for her father at VU before transferring to Coastal Carolina.

A Legacy of Excellence

VU will soon commence a search for a new athletic director and a new women's basketball coach to continue the proud traditions Meeks has established.

More details about a retirement celebration for Harry Meeks will be forthcoming soon.

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