New Army hoops head coach Kevin Kuwik is more than a basketball coach
Kuwik served in Iraq, campaigned on Capitol Hill for aviation safety, and trained under Brad Stevens & Thad Matta. Now, he gets his shot at the helm of the Black Knights.
PIC: Army Athletics
If you look at Kevin Kuwik's resume, you'll think he's qualified for just about any job. A history of campaigning to make airplanes safer; stints learning from legendary college basketball coaches Brad Stevens & Thad Matta; completing a tour in Iraq defending the United States and its freedoms.
Sure sounds like someone that just about anybody would hire.
Kevin Kuwik, after 25 years in assistant coaching roles, gets his first nod as the Head Coach of a Division I men's basketball program. He was named as the leader of the Army Black Knights a few weeks ago and met the media for an introductory press conference today.
Kuwik's assistant roles spanned many different levels of college basketball. His assistantship at Christian Brothers University, his first role, saw an historic turnaround; the team improved from just 3 wins in the year before his arrival to 12 wins in his first season. After a stint at St. Michael's College in Vermont, Kuwik spent eight seasons as an assistant at Ohio, then was tabbed by Brad Stevens in 2008-09; the Bulldogs not only went to the NCAA Tournament that year, but laid the foundation for what would become two-straight appearances in the NCAA Championship Game.
"To me, Kevin is an outstanding fit to be the next Head Coach at Army," said Brad Stevens, who now is the President of Basketball Ops with the Boston Celtics. "He's a very good coach that combines a wealth of experience with a real hunger to grow. With intelligence, work ethic and service-oriented mindset, I think he will be a special coach and leader."
Kuwik went onto serve 6 years on Archie Miller's staff at Dayton, then Bob McKillop's staff at Davidson, then back to Butler, where he served under Thad Matta for this past year.
Of course, Kuwik became a natural fit for the opening at Army due to his military ties. He served ten years in the US Military, first earning the honor of Distinguished Military Graduate in the Army ROTC program at Notre Dame. Kuwik took an 18-month leave of absence from Ohio to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in the 113th Engineer Battalion of the Indiana National Guard. He was honorably discharged for his efforts shortly afterwards.
And yes, Kuwik came back after his tour in Iraq to help Ohio win the MAC title and reach the NCAA Tournament. It's simply incredible.
"Kevin Kuwik is a leader and a winner," longtime Davidson head coach Bob McKillop said. "He embodies what the United States Military Academy represents. Duty, Honor, and Country is part of his fabric as Kevin lives his life guided by the virtues of trust, commitment, and care."
Kuwik spent many years fighting for further aviation safety measures during his coaching career. His then-girlfriend Lorin Maurer was on board Continental Flight 3407, which crashed into a house upon approach to Buffalo International Airport in 2009, killing all 50 on board. Kuwik fought relentlessly for the next few years, encouraging lawmakers to pass more stringent legislation to make regional aircrafts safer; it resulted in a sweeping measure in 2010 to address pilot fatigue, training programs, and more.
"If you fly Delta, if you fly American, it's the highest paid pilots, it's the biggest commitment to safety, training, equipment," Kuwik told IndyStar's Akeem Glaspie in a recent story. "As they farm out the shorter flights to regional airlines, that's where it's entry-level pilots...they might not invest in the gold standards of training programs...but unfortunately, there was a really big gap between how the majors were doing it and how the regionals were doing it. They took shortcuts in a lot of different areas."
Kuwik received honors from the FAA shortly after the legislation went through.
Now, Kevin Kuwik becomes the 32nd head coach of the Army basketball program in its 121-year history. The Army role served as the starting point for many well-known college basketball coaches like Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Knight, and Tates Lock; the three of which went a combined 215-124 as the Black Knights head coach, and all went on to have long careers at Power Five programs afterwards.
Kuwik is tasked with taking an Army program over the hump. Although Jimmy Allen kept the teams competitive over his seven-season stint as the head coach, the Black Knights never once made it past the semifinal round of the Patriot League tournament in that span. The good news for Kuwik is that most offensive production returns in 2023-24 barring a significant exodus; junior Jalen Rucker averaged almost 17 points-per-game in 22-23, and freshman Ethan Roberts added in just over 12 with about 5 boards. Both are expected back, per sources.
"For all the soldiers I've led, for all the young men that I've coached, I'm here because of them," he said. "They did way more to get me here than I did."