Having served at the helm of five institutions during his
illustrious 40-year coaching career, Eldon Miller heads into his
third season as an assistant coach alongside his son, Ben Miller,
for the 2010-2011 season.
A native of Gnadenhutten, Ohio, Miller started his basketball career as a standout guard at Wittenberg University, leading the Tigers to an NCAA Division III National Championship as a senior in 1961. A four-year letterman, Miller served one year as an assistant coach at Wittenberg following his playing career before taking over the helm of the program in 1963 at the age of 23. His first team posted a 26-2 record, won the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), and advanced to the NCAA College Division Championship before losing to South Dakota State by two points.
Miller coached his alma mater for eight seasons, compiling a 142-55 record and five OAC titles through 1970 before taking over as the head coach at Western Michigan University prior to the 1971 season. There, he took over a program that had experienced seven-consecutive losing seasons prior to his arrival and, in 1976, Miller guided the Broncos to the Mid-American Conference Championship - the school’s first conference title in 24 years.
His success in Kalamazoo was parlayed into a position as the head coach at Ohio State University prior to the 1976-1977 campaign. He inherited a program that had gone just 6-20 overall and 2-16 in the conference the year before his arrival, and turned the program around to win a combined 40 games from 1978-1980. Miller coached the Buckeyes for 10 seasons, leading them to the NCAA tournament on four occasions, including two trips to the Sweet Sixteen. He earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1983 and led his squads to four 20-win seasons as well as the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) Championship during his final season with the Buckeyes in 1986. He coached four All-Big Ten players during his tenure in Columbus (Kelvin Ransey – 1978, 1979, 1980; Brad Sellers – 1986; Clark Kellogg – 1982; and Herb Williams – 1980), and six future NBA first-round draft picks (Ransey, Williams, Kellogg, Sellers, Tony Campbell and Dennis Hopson). He also mentored several notable assistant coaches including Jim Cleamons, Randy Ayers, Chuck Machock and Bob Huggins during his time in Columbus. His final record with the Buckeyes stood at 176-118, including a 112-35 record at St. Jon Arena, then Ohio State’s home court.
From there he traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa, where he took over the program at the University of Northern Iowa prior to the 1986-1987 season. Miller helmed the Panthers for 12 seasons and led the school to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1990 where, as a 14-seed, they knocked off third-seeded Missouri in the first round. Miller’s 1990 squad also earned a victory over 20th-ranked Iowa at the UNI-Dome in front of a record crowd of 22,797. He earned Missouri Valley Coach of the Year honors in 1996-1997, the fifth-such honor of his career, before retiring from the game.
Miller was inducted into the Wittenberg Athletics Hall of Honor in 1986, the University of Northern Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. He and his wife Dee have three children - Amy, Carrie and Ben.