Oklahoma men's basketball coach Lon Kruger will receive the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Metropolitan Award for long and outstanding service to men's college basketball, the NABC announced Friday.
The award will be presented to Kruger by his son, Kevin, who is an assistant on OU's coaching staff, at the annual AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show. The show will be live streamed on Twitter on Sunday, April 2 at 4:30 p.m. CT from the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz., as part of Final Four weekend.
The Metropolitan Award has a long and storied history, which began in New York City. The Metropolitan Basketball Association presented its first Metropolitan Award in 1941 to legendary City College of New York coach Nat Holman and followed that a year later with Ned Irish, who first brought college basketball to Madison Square Garden.
Over eight decades, the most famous names in men’s college basketball have been honored with the award, including Adolph Rupp, Clair Bee, Henry Iba, John Wooden and Dave Gavitt.
Kruger, who recently completed his 31st season as a collegiate head coach, has made a significant impact on collegiate basketball both on and off the court. He is the first Division I coach to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament and the only coach to win an NCAA Tournament game with five different programs (he has won at least two games at all five). In 2015, he became the first coach since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to take four programs to the Sweet 16 or beyond.
Kruger’s head coaching career began in 1982 at Texas-Pan American and has included stops at Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV. He ranks 10th in career wins among active NCAA Division I coaches with a 601-361 record. This past season, Kruger became the 33rd head coach to win 600 Division I games. He owns a 20-17 record in NCAA Tournament games and has compiled 16 20-plus-win seasons, including nine in the last 12 years. He has guided teams to 17 NCAA Tournaments, five Sweet 16s and two Final Fours – most recently taking Oklahoma to the 2016 Final Four.
Off the court, Kruger has used his influence in the basketball community to fight cancer through his work with the NABC’s Coaches vs. Cancer program. Along with his wife, Barbara, Kruger was instrumental in starting the Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Classic, which has raised more than $2.5 million over the last nine years to benefit research, education and treatment programs for the American Cancer Society.
In 2012, Kruger received the national Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award for his work with the organization. He was also recognized by the American Cancer Society in 2016 by receiving the organization's St. George National Award, presented to outstanding community volunteers in recognition of their distinguished service to the American Cancer Society.
Located in Kansas City, Mo., the NABC was founded in 1927 by Phog Allen, the legendary basketball coach at the University of Kansas. Allen, a student of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, organized coaches into this collective group to serve as Guardians of the Game. The NABC currently has nearly 5,000 members consisting primarily of university and college men's basketball coaches.