It’s official - Dan Sparks is calling it a career.
The Hall of Fame basketball coach, with the second most wins among active junior college coaches, has resigned as head coach at Wabash Valley College. The IECC District 529 board accepted his resignation letter at the trustees regular meeting on Tuesday night at WVC.
“Dan has been a great coach,” said WVC president Dr. Matt Fowler following the board meeting. “Having a Hall of Famer retire leaves a void. He won’t be able to be replaced.”
Sparks’ recent health problems played a large role in his decision. He broke a hip after a fall from a ladder at his Vincennes home last November, requiring emergency surgery. He missed roughly the first half of the season, returning to the bench in January with the aid of a cane and walker.
He has been slow to heal and apparently faces more procedures. IECC Chancellor Terry Bruce said it came down to two unfortunate choices in regards to basketball: undergo more surgery now and miss the recruiting season, or delay the surgery until after recruiting but miss games again next year.
Bruce, in praising the veteran coach, said Sparks indicated that he could not “do that to the kids.”
Sparks won 868 games, just over 700 during his 26-year stay at Vincennes, the rest over a seven-year span at Wabash Valley. He took several Trailblazer teams to the NJCAA national tournament, finishing second in 1986. He also took two Warrior teams to Hutchinson, Kan., finishing eighth both times.
Sparks starred at Vincennes, then played professionally in the ABA and the Chicago Bulls of the NBA following his graduation from Weber State. He was hired as head coach at VU in 1969.