Bob Chipman is set for one last season at Washburn University of Topeka.
When the Ichabods tip off the 2016-17 men’s basketball season, it will start the 38th and final season of his head coaching career. Counting the three years he spent as an assistant, it will mark his 41st year on the sidelines at Washburn.
Chipman, 65, was hired in 1976 as the team’s assistant coach. He also served as the head tennis coach and taught physical education. He never anticipated making Topeka, Kansas, his home for this long.
“It’s been a perfect fit,” said Chipman, who led the Ichabods to a national Division II runner-up finish in 2001 and won the 1987 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship. “It was a situation where I’ve always felt we’ve had the resources to win a championship, and that’s important. It is a high academic institution. You can recruit kids who are great athletes but who also want to get a degree.”
Chipman earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Kansas State University in science and physical education. As a guard for the Wildcats, he was coached by Jack Hartman and was teammates with Lon Kruger, who led the University of Oklahoma to the Men’s Final Four last season.
He thought he wanted to become a teacher after graduating, but once he began coaching, he realized where his true passion was.
Through the years, Chipman fielded offers to leave Washburn, but each time he evaluated a new situation, it never outweighed his job leading the Ichabods.
“I’ve also enjoyed building players and making them better,” said Chipman, who is 788-343 entering his final season. “At the Division II level, the degree really means something to the players I coach. They can use that and go on to do special things when basketball is over. The huge part of all this is, all my players that have gone on and done so well.”
Chipman doesn’t have specific plans of what he’ll do in retirement, but he will be active.
“I still have a lot of energy.” Chipman said. “I feel healthy. I have a team that I think can win a championship this year. I’d love to go out that way. A lot of our players will be back after this season, and I would like to leave the cupboard full.”