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Former Northern State coach Meyer dies at 69

Don Meyer, one of the winningest men’s college basketball coaches in history, died of cancer Sunday, May 18, 2014, in South Dakota. He was 69.

Don Meyer, one of the winningest men’s college basketball coaches in history, died of cancer Sunday in South Dakota. He was 69.

Meyer went 923-324 in his 38-year coaching career, guiding his teams into the postseason 19 times. He spent three years at Hamline University before going on to coach 24 seasons at Lipscomb University in Tennessee, and then 11 seasons at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., before retiring in 2010. Northern State and Minnesota Duluth both are in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, and Meyer coached a number of games against the Bulldogs.

Meyer passed Bob Knight on the career coaching wins list in 2009, just four months after recovering from a near-fatal auto accident. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has since surpassed Meyer’s wins record.

Meyer died at his home in Aberdeen, S.D., according to family spokeswoman Brenda Dreyer.

“He won his greatest victory and is now running again and gearing up to pitch nine innings,” the Meyer family said in a statement. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love, prayers and concern.”

Meyer kept coaching after being critically injured in a traffic accident in September 2008. He endured several operations, which included removing his spleen, repairing cracked ribs and having his left leg amputated below the knee.

Meyer later called the accident a blessing because doctors found cancer in his liver and small intestines during the operations.

Four months later, while in a wheelchair, he became the winningest men’s coach on Jan. 10, 2009.

Meyer was honored in July 2009 with ESPN’s Jimmy V Perseverance Award, given to a sports figure who has overcome great obstacles. The award is named after former North Carolina State coach Jimmy Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993. Meyer was also awarded the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August 2010.