by staff–17 Mar ’20
University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman announced Monday the hiring of Jeff Linder as head coach of the Cowboy Basketball Team. Linder is the 22nd head coach in Wyoming history. He led Northern Colorado to three-straight 20-win seasons.
“Jeff (Linder) turned around the basketball program at Northern Colorado and developed his team into one of the premier programs in the Big Sky Conference.” Burman said. “Jeff possesses many important qualities I was looking for in a new head coach for Cowboy Basketball. First and foremost, he is a proven winner as a head coach. Jeff also has great knowledge of the region and the Mountain West Conference. His brand of basketball will be great for our Cowboy fans to watch, as his teams play with great offensive efficiency and play a tough hard-nosed style of defense. We couldn’t be more excited to have Jeff lead Wyoming Basketball into a new era.”
Linder has posted an impressive 80-50 (.615) record in four seasons at Northern Colorado. He was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year during the 2018-19 season leading the Bears to 15 conference wins for a program record. The Bears tied that record of 15 conference wins again in the 2019-20 season. Over the last three seasons, Linder led UNC to the most wins during a three-year stretch in program history, with 69 wins. The Bears also finished in the top-100 of the NCAA NET Rankings.
“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to be the men’s basketball coach at the University of Wyoming,” Linder said. “Wyoming has a rich basketball tradition which at a young age I was introduced to on the Sports Illustrated cover that featured Cowboy great, Fennis Dembo. From that time on growing up down the road in Denver, I was always rooting for the Cowboys. For me to now have the opportunity to lead this acclaimed program is an honor that I won’t take for granted. I will work to build on the storied past built and laid before me and diligently work to make Wyoming basketball a force to be reckoned with.”
“The University of Wyoming basketball job is an incredible fit for me and my family,” Linder said. “Having grown up in the region and having coached in the Mountain West Conference it was almost too good to be true when Tom Burman called me. My staff and I will make recruiting Wyoming and the region a priority while scanning the globe for student-athletes who fit the characteristics we want in Cowboy basketball players.
He also helped lead Northern Colorado to its first postseason title in 2017-18, as the Bears won the College Invitational Tournament. It marked the first postseason title for any Colorado school since the 1940 season. It was also the first postseason title for a team from the Big Sky Conference. During the 2017-18 campaign, UNC won a school record 26 games on their way to the CIT Championship. The Bears finished the season ranked in the top-100 of the RPI.
“Cowboy fans will see a team that will play hard and play together as a team,” Linder said. “We will look to play to our player’s strengths and put them in position to best utilize those strengths. Having coached against the current Wyoming players the past three seasons I am confident that they will really fit and flourish in this system. There is great talent on this team and I’m looking forward to coaching them.”
Prior to his time at Northern Colorado, Linder spent six seasons at Boise State with the last three years serving as associate head coach of the Broncos. Linder helped guide Boise State to two NCAA tournament appearances and the team’s first Mountain West Conference Championship during his tenure.”
In 2014-15, his second season as Associate Head Coach, the Broncos tied the school record for wins, going 25-9, including a 14-1 record in the team’s final 15 regular season games. Boise State won 20-or-more games in five of Linder’s six seasons.
Renowned for his offensive game plans, Boise State saw immediate production with Linder on the bench. The Broncos led the conference in scoring in three of his six seasons and finished second in 2014-15. Boise State averaged 76.2 points per game in 2013-14, the second-highest season average for the Broncos in nearly 40 years.
In his first year with at Boise State, Linder helped head coach Leon Rice steer the Broncos to one of its most successful seasons in school history, one that culminated in an appearance in the conference tournament championship game and just the fourth postseason appearance in the last 17 years.
Prior to Boise State, Linder served as an assistant and associate head coach at the University of San Francisco. In 2009-10 at USF, the Dons posted a 12-18 record, including a 9-4 record at home. San Francisco was able to record a memorable highlight on Jan. 30, as the Dons knocked off No. 8 Gonzaga in an 81-77 overtime thriller, which snapped the Bulldogs’ West Coast Conference regular-season winning streak of 27 games.
He also spent time at Weber State. Linder helped the Wildcats to a 36-26 overall record, and in 2006-07 the Wildcats won the Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament titles and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Linder also recruited Damian Lillard to Weber State, who was selected sixth-overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Linder got his start in collegiate coaching as the assistant director of men’s basketball operations at Colorado under head coach Ricardo Patton. After one season at CU, Linder was hired as an assistant coach on David Moe’s staff at Emporia State, where he spent three seasons. Emporia State went 22-5 during his final campaign and earned the third seed in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Linder moved from Emporia State to Midland Junior College in Midland, Texas, where he spent two seasons as an assistant coach to Grant McCasland. Linder helped coach Midland to a 53-16 record during his tenure, and in 2005-06 the team finished 26-10 and made an appearance in the “Elite Eight” at the national junior college tournament.
A native of Lafayette, Colo., he played one season at Mesa State. After his freshman year, Linder transferred to Western State Colorado where he played three seasons under coach Bob Hofman. As a Mountaineer, Linder earned All-Rocky Mountain Conference honors, both on the court and in the classroom, three times.