NMU hires new head men’s b-ball coach

Courtesy of NMU Athletics


Bill Sall


MARQUETTE, Mich. – Bill Sall has been named the 14th head coach of the Northern Michigan University men’s basketball program, Athletic Director Forrest Karr announced on Saturday (May 11). An introductory press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday (May 13) in the Wildcat Room of the Berry Events Center.

Sall spent 11 seasons as the head coach of Ferris State University from 2002-13. Under his direction, the Bulldogs won four Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division titles (2003-04, 2010-11, 2011-12) and reached the NCAA Division II Tournament three times (2004-05, 2005-06, 2010-11), including a pair of regional championship game appearances. His overall record at FSU was 171-145 and 127-85 in GLIAC games.

“Bill has significant experience and is a proven winner at this level,” said Karr. “He has accomplished many things on the court while also graduating student-athletes at a high rate.”

“My family and I are extremely excited about the opportunity to become the 14th head coach of Northern Michigan,” Sall said. “I would like to thank President David Haynes for the opportunity to lead this historic basketball program.”

Sall served four seasons (1998-2002) as an assistant coach under Ed Douma at Hillsdale College before being appointed head coach at FSU. The Chargers were 72-41 (.637) during his time in Hillsdale and had two consecutive (2001-02) NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional tournament appearances and one GLIAC South title.

“Bill received strong recommendations from people that I respect,” Karr added. “Everyone that I’ve spoken with says he is an outstanding coach and the kind of coach that any parent would want their son to play for. It’s clear that Bill is in coaching for all the right reasons.”

“The facilities are great and having the opportunity to talk and meet with Forrest Karr was a huge determining factor,” said Sall. “He’s person that has a tremendous focus to take the athletic department to a new level. He sold me on what NMU can be with dedicated loyal people that will make the transition easier.”

Sall was the top assistant at FSU for three seasons (1995-98). He helped guide the Bulldogs to a 21-12 finish along with a GLIAC Tournament Championship title and a NCAA Division II National Tournament berth during the 1997-98 season. He was an interim head coach for a portion of the 1995-96 season.

“The position reminds me of when I took over Ferris State with an awful lot of tradition after a few down seasons,” Sall added. “There’s some talent left but we need to understand that there’s a long way to go and it’s going to take a lot of work. Northern got the right guy for the job but it’s going to be baby steps at first. The next month and a half is going to be huge. We need to find the hidden gems that have gotten passed over and we need to hit the ground running to find some guys that can help us out next year.”

Sall’s coaching career began with Douma at his alma mater Calvin College from 1992-95. The Knights made two NCAA Division III National Tournament appearances, claimed the 1993-94 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship and were 37-17 (.685) overall during his two seasons as an assistant coach.

“Hiring a great coach was the first step in rebuilding our program,” Karr said. “Now it’s up to all of us to support Bill and help him return Northern to its winning tradition.”

Sall was a standout player at Calvin from 1985-90. A two-time (1989-90) MIAA co-Most Valuable Player, Sall currently ranks as the Knights’ third-leading all-time scorer with 2,063 points, which included a 70-game double-figure scoring streak. He was a two-time (1989-90) second-team National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III All-American. Sall graduated from Calvin in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management.