A 10-year NCAA Division I head coaching veteran, Steve Merfeld recently completed a stint as an assistant basketball coach at Bradley University. Prior to his time in Peoria, Merfeld was the head coach at the University of Evansville for five seasons, following five seasons at the helm of the Hampton University program. The owner of 144 Division I wins, he boasts two regular-season conference titles, two conference tournament titles and two trips to the NCAA Tournament in those 10 seasons as a program’s top man. Most memorably, Merfeld led No. 15 seed Hampton to an upset of No. 2 seed Iowa State during the opening round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

Recognized as a program builder, Merfeld has taken over two programs that had been struggling.  At Hampton University Merfeld inherited a team that was beginning its third year of the transition to Division I. The season prior to his arrival in 1997, the Pirates had won 8 games and had an RPI of 294.  In five years these numbers changed to 26 wins and an RPI of 111.  In 2002 Merfeld took over a squad at the University of Evansville that had won 7 games and had an RPI of 261 prior to his arrival.  As the Missouri Valley Conference reached unprecedented heights during his tenure at Evansville, the program improved a remarkable 131 spots in the RPI (from 261 to 130).

Merfeld took over at Evansville in 2002 and directed the Purple Aces to a 54-91 record in five seasons. His teams collected 11 victories against postseason squads (7 NCAA, 4 NIT). In addition to four All-Missouri Valley Conference players, three All-Freshman team members and six 1,000 point scorers, he coached six MVC Scholar-Athletes, including two-time Academic All-American Clint Cuffle and Division I-AAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year Jason Holsinger.

More importantly, while under the leadership of Coach Merfeld, every senior who came through the Evansville program graduated. Over the course of his tenure, Merfeld led the Aces to their best MVC finish since 1999, their best MVC Tournament finish since 1999, their best non-conference record since 2000 and wins over perennial NCAA tournament participants Purdue of the Big Ten and Southern Illinois and Creighton of the MVC.

Prior to 2002, Merfeld was highly successful as the head coach at Hampton University, during which time he led the Pirates to a 90-57 record that was capped by back-to-back sweeps of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles, along with NCAA Tournament berths in 2001 and 2002. He produced the MEAC’s top- rated recruiting class for four consecutive years.

His final season at Hampton was truly noteworthy. Having lost four major contributors from a team that put together a terrific regular season and a fairy tale run in the 2001 NCAA tournament, outside expectations for the 2002 edition of the Pirates were not nearly as high. But someone forgot to tell Merfeld and his team.  The 2001-02 season began with a bang. On opening night in Chapel Hill, N.C. this Hampton team dominated the 17th-ranked Tar Heels from start to finish, producing a 77-69 victory.  A clear message was sent throughout the basketball world. This Pirate team proceeded to have an even better season than 2001, dominating the MEAC (17-1), posting an amazing 16-7 road record and returning to the "Big Dance." In fact, they became the first-ever 15-seed winner to return to the NCAA Tournament the following season. The team finished with a school-record 26 wins and for his team's list of accomplishments, Merfeld was named the 2002 MEAC Coach of the Year, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 4 Coach of the Year and CollegeInsider.com's National Mid-Major Coach of the Year.

The 2000-01 campaign was truly a “Cinderella Season” for Merfeld and the Pirates. In only the sixth season of competing at the Division I level, Hampton reached milestone after milestone on their way to a then-best 25-7 record and the school’s first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. During an amazing run through the MEAC schedule, Hampton won 13-of-14 games, including a stretch of 10 straight wins. The 2000-01 team set school records for most total wins, most conference wins and best conference finish and captured the school’s first conference tournament championship. For his efforts, Merfeld was named as MEAC Outstanding Tournament Coach and was recognized by his peers as the NABC District 4 Coach of the Year.

Then came the NCAA Tournament. Merfeld and the 15-seed Pirates were fitted for the glass slipper during their first-round match-up with 2-seed Iowa State. Hampton pulled off the upset of the year as they defeated the Cyclones, 58-57. Etched in the memories of fans across the nation is Merfeld’s jubilant reaction of emotion and joy that truly is “March Madness.” To many, this was the “Shining Moment” of the 2001 NCAA Tournament. In fact, this celebration remains a popular video highlight during NCAA tournament coverage.

In his first year as a head coach, Merfeld made an immediate mark on the program by guiding the Pirates to a 14-12 finish, their first winning season since moving to Division I in 1995. The Pirates were the surprise of the MEAC, finishing third with an impressive 11-7 record.

Following an up-and-down 1998-99 season, Merfeld led Hampton to a 17-12 mark in 1999-00, and with the nine-game turnaround, his squad was recognized by College Hoops Insider as the 10th most-improved team in college basketball. At the time, the 17 victories were the most in school history at the Division 1 level and the 13 conference wins also set a school record.

Prior to Hampton, Merfeld served 10 years as an assistant coach at Bowling Green under former Falcon and current George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga, who guided GMU to the Final Four in 2006. During his time at Bowling Green, Merfeld established himself as a highly-regarded recruiter in the state of Ohio and throughout the Midwest. He was credited with the signing of point guard Antonio Daniels, who went on to become the number four pick of the 1997 NBA Draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies after starring at Bowling Green. Daniels is currently a member of the New Orleans Hornets.

Merfeld’s relentless and effective recruiting was quite evident at Bowling Green as he personally recruited three Mid-American Conference Rookies-of-the-Year in a five-year span. Two of those players went on to become the MAC Player-of-the-Year – Daniels in 1997 and Anthony Stacey in 2000. Stacey is Bowling Green’s all-time leading scorer.
Before his stint at BGSU, Coach Merfeld was the head boys basketball coach and assistant athletic director at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin from 1984-86. Merfeld is a 1980 graduate of Bloomington (WI) High School and received his undergraduate degree from Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1984 and a master’s degree from Bowling Green in 1987.

Merfeld and his wife, Mary Jo, are the proud parents of daughter, Lauren (11), and son, Andrew (8)