Royce Waltman, who served as head men's basketball coach at DePauw University from 1987 to 1992 and later led the hoops programs at the University of Indianapolis and Indiana State University, died last night in Noblesville, Indiana, following a lengthy illness. He was 72 years old.
Born January 8, 1942, in Ellerslie, Maryland, Waltman's head coaching career began at Bedford High School in Pennsylvania, where he compiled a record of 277-113 from 1966 to 1981. He joined Indiana University's Bob Knight as an assistant coach in 1982 and aided Knight with the preparation of the 1984 United States Men's Olympic basketball team which captured a gold medal at the Los Angeles games. He was also a coach on IU's 1987 national championship team.
Waltman was still on the Hoosiers staff when he was introduced as DePauw's new head men's basketball coach at a May 5, 1987 news conference at the Canterbury Hotel in Indianapolis. He replaced Mike Steele, who had just left DePauw to become head coach at Division I East Carolina.
"If you spend five years at Indiana working under Coach Knight and you don't bring some of those things with you I think you'd be rather foolish," Waltman said at the media event. "So when you see DePauw play, I'd like to think that you'll see aggressive man-for-man defense and you'll see unselfish movement on offense but most of all just players who are dedicated to playing as hard and unselfishly as they know how."
Waltman's Tiger teams posted an overall record of 99-38 and the 1989-90 squad went to the NCAA Division III final game, losing by one point. His Tiger teams also made the tournament in 1990-91 and 1991-92 and were ranked first during the 1987-88 season and in the 1990-91 preseason rankings. Waltman was named the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year that season. His DePauw players included Brad Brownell '91, now head men's basketball coach at Clemson University.
In 1992, Waltman left DePauw for the University of Indianapolis, where he amassed a 103-62 mark over six seasons. He then went to Division Indiana State, and led the Sycamores to the 2000 Missouri Valley Confence regular season title and to the 2001 MVC tournament title. In both of those seasons, ISU advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Waltman won 100 or more games at each school and led all three to the NCAA National Tournament; in addition, he led them all to conference regular and tournament championships. His career collegiate record was 337-263 (.562).
In 2003, Waltman's 1989-90 squad was inducted into the DePauw Athletic Hall of Fame. "Their success and their demeanor on the court and their unselfishness had very little to do with coaching," Waltman said at the induction dinner on November 1, 2003. "I've been coaching for 39 years and I really hesitate to say 'best player, best team' for fear that I'll offend some great kid that I've had the pleasure of coaching. But when it comes to team play and the understanding of roles, I've never coached a team who understands unselfishness and team play like these guys do."
Since 2010, Waltman had been working as a color commentator on IU's radio broadcasts. He took a leave of absence late last year to deal with his illness.
Bill Fenlon, who succeeded Waltman as DePauw's coach in April 1992 and is the program's all-time leader in wins, noted, "Coach Waltman had a great passion for the game of basketball and the players who play it. He was an incredibly fierce competitor, who always seemed to have teams whose sum was greater than their parts. He was a demanding mentor and loyal friend to hundreds of players and coaches whose lives he touched."
Fenlon added, "The game of basketball and those of us who care about it lost a very valuable teammate today. All of us here in the DePauw basketball family send our very best to the Waltman family during this difficult time."
A photo gallery is available here.
A visitation will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at St. Luke's Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis, with a celebration of Coach Waltman's life at 4 p.m.