Former Loper to lead UNK Men’s Basketball

Former Loper to lead UNK Men’s Basketball
April 2nd, 2024 | UNK Athletics

KEARNEY –Marty Levinson has been hired as head men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Director of Athletics Marc Bauer announced today.

UNK will formally introduce Levinson on April 5 (Friday) at 9 a.m. in the Health & Sports Center. He begins his duties immediately.

“It’s an honor to announce Marty Levinson as Head Men’s Basketball Coach at UNK. Coach Levinson is enthusiastic about his return home to Nebraska and to lead the Loper Men’s Basketball program in the MIAA,” said Bauer. “He has proven his ability to build programs and lead with integrity while ensuring his players excel in the classroom, community, and life.”

Levinson, 42, is no stranger to Nebraska or UNK men’s basketball. The Grand Island native is a ​Bellevue West High School and UNK graduate, played high school, college, and professional basketball in the state, and held coaching positions at Grand Island Central Catholic, UNK, Central C.C.-Columbus, and assisted with Everything to Gain (ETG), one of the top AAU programs in Nebraska.

Having worked at the collegiate level for the past 17 years, Levinson has been a successful head coach at Central C.C. (2012-14), Southern Arkansas University Tech (2018-23) and Trinity Valley, Texas (2023-24). He was the first-ever coach in SAU Tech history, building the program up from the ground floor.

Levinson has amassed a career record of 191-94 (.670 winning pct.), been named District Coach of the Year five times and Region C.O.Y on four occasions. Finally, he saw five of his teams qualify for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tournament, finishing as high as third.

“I’m honored and grateful to be named the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. To follow in the footsteps of great men like Dr. Tom Kropp, Jerry Heuser and Kevin Lofton is a responsibility that I do not take lightly,” said Levinson. “Many special people and great teams have worn Loper Blue and Gold, and I will put my heart and soul into building relationships and preparing young men for the world just like the leaders before me.”

Holding undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNK, Levinson has coached many players that have had successful careers at the NCAA Division I and Division II levels and some that have continued to play professionally. That large group includes Quinston Reggins (D1 Coppin State, Md. & UNK), Tre’Shawn Thurman (UNO, Nevada & G-League), Tra-Deon Hollins (UNO & G-League), Shereef Mitchell (Creighton & Ohio U.), and Kezie Okpala (Stanford & NBA).

​”During the search, it became more evident that Coach Levinson was the best fit for our program because of his connections on campus, in the community, across the state, and with the alumni. Although challenging, I fully expect him to come in, get after it, and achieve great things at UNK,” said Bauer. 

Playing for Southeast C.C., Augustana (S.D.), UNK and the professional Nebraska Cranes in Kearney, Levinson has also served as an assistant coach at six colleges. That includes Division I Pacific (Calif.) and at UNK when the Lopers were a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).

“Growing up in Central Nebraska and coming to Kearney to watch guys like Eric Strand, Kenya Crandell, and Mike Hancock inspired me as a young man! I hope to bring back the passion, brotherhood, and success that those guys and their teams displayed,” said Levinson. “UNK has always been a place where the top Nebraska kids from Scottsbluff to Omaha could come play and have their family and friends share the experience. I want those players to be excited and proud to put Lopers across their chest and know that they represent themselves, their families, the local community as well as a lot of great players that paved the way before them.”

Levinson was a key guard on one of the most successful men’s basketball teams in UNK history. The 2002-03 Lopers went 30-3, won the RMAC regular season title and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II Tournament. In the North Central Regional finals, UNK beat rival Metro (Colo.) State, 94-87, in front of a sold-out Health & Sports Center crowd. Levinson redshirted during 2003-04 when the Lopers reached the Sweet 16 and helped the 2004-05 squad win 23 games and get back to the NCAA Tournament.

“The Health & Sports Center is one of if not the best facilities and atmospheres in all of Division II. When we won the 2003 regional title, Metro head coach Mike Dunlap (a longtime college and NBA coach), walked out to center court after defeat and turned in a circle to salute the capacity crowd,” said Levinson. “The energy in the building was special and my dream is to revive that. We need the community, school, and all the Loper faithful to get behind us. The younger generation of players and fans don’t know how great UNK can be and I will give everything I can to get it back!”


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