After 50 years of coaching, including 22 seasons at UMHB, Ken DeWeese (center) announced his retirement Thursday.

A career that spanned a half-century on the sideline has come to an end. After 22 seasons in charge of the Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball program and 50 years as a coach, Ken DeWeese on Thursday announced his retirement, effective today.

“In light of everything that’s going on, this appeared to be the best time to do it. I think everything’s up in the air right now. We’re all in the same boat,” he said. “Everything is unknown, and I’m a little concerned with the future of college athletics. There’s going to be a toll on a bunch of programs at all levels of college athletics.

“Hopefully, it will get back to normal in 10 years, but it won’t be the same for the next few years. This seemed like the right thing to do.”

DeWeese guided UMHB to a 400-195 mark, an American Southwest Conference-record 20 ASC tournament appearances, two conference championships and six trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament, including the Crusaders’ run to the national championship game in 2013.

“I would like to thank Ken for his 22 years of service to Cru basketball,” UMHB athletic director Randy Mann said. “His many career achievements are admired by all of us and have earned him a respected place in collegiate coaching.”

DeWeese’s coaching career began in the high school ranks at Smiley for the 1969-70 season and continued with high school stops at Aransas Pass, Sinton and Port Arthur Jefferson, before he accepted a position as an assistant for the legendary Don Haskins at Texas-El Paso. After six seasons at UTEP, he spent 16 years as the head coach at McLennan Community College, followed by one year as an assistant at Georgia State before taking over at UMHB for the 1998-99 season.

Of his 50 seasons on the sideline, only seven of them were spent as an assistant. He has an overall record of 804-300 as a college head coach, leading UMHB and MCC to a total of 13 conference championships and 36 postseason berths.

As for what he’ll miss the most, there was no hesitation.

“Practice,” said DeWeese, who informed his players of his decision in a video conference Thursday afternoon. “I looked forward to practice every day. I always felt empty when the season was over every year. Every team is different and every season is different, and you become very attached to every one.”

The highlight of his tenure at UMHB was the 2012-13 season. After falling to Concordia Texas in the title game of the ASC tourney, the Crusaders turned around and defeated the Tornados in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Up next were three consecutive come-from-behind victories — first against Whitworth in Spokane, Wash., then against St. Mary’s and St. Thomas in Salem, Va. — before an 87-70 loss to Amherst in the national championship game in Atlanta.

“That was a great deal of fun,” said DeWeese, whose 2012-13 team lost two of its first three games before winning 26 of its last 30. “That group of guys really overachieved. They just didn’t know how to quit. I was disappointed after the championship game, but I was never disappointed by my coaches or players.”

DeWeese isn’t sure exactly what retirement will look like for him, but it will include more time with his wife, Ann, their children — Kenny and Kelsey — and seven grandchildren.

“I haven’t been a part of as many things as I should have with my family,” he said. “I’m not saying I turned my back on them, but I counted on Ann to do a lot and she did a great job with our son and daughter. They all gave me the time I needed to make my basketball teams as good as they could be.”

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