On May 7, 2022, close to 200 alumni, friends and fans of Coach Dave Hixon ’75 gathered in LeFrak Gymnasium to celebrate one of the most successful college coaching careers in the nation and recognize Hixon’s enduring legacy as a teacher, recruiter, mentor, adviser, administrator and admired colleague.
As an Amherst student, Hixon earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and played on the basketball team. He was just 24 when he was named head coach of men’s basketball at the College, at the time the youngest person in such a position in the country. A force in Amherst athletics, Hixon coached two teams to national championships in 2007 and 2013; he was the third coach in men’s basketball history across all National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) divisions to surpass the 800-win mark and sits at the top of the NCAA's list of most wins in men's collegiate basketball with an overall record of 826-293. He retired in April 2020.
The festivities began the previous day with an outing at the Amherst Golf Club and a dinner in Middleton Gym, and ended with a celebratory barbecue lunch. In between those lively gatherings was a dedication ceremony to formally name the basketball court in Hixon’s honor. The event was the culmination of a $2 million fundraising effort, led by Bill O’Malley ’84 and Dave Wasserman ’89, to recognize Hixon’s many accomplishments.
While Hixon’s track record is legendary, President Biddy Martin spoke about the deeper impact of a career spent at Amherst: “One of the things that impresses me most is the 42 years—the loyalty to a place, to a sport, to an institution, to all of the young people who benefited from his time here. It’s one thing to cite statistics or numbers, but it’s another thing to think about what Dave has meant to those of you who are here and many people who couldn’t be here.”
O’Malley talked about the “hoops family” that Hixon is at the center of. “Hix has an incredible family right in front of us, and also an incredible family in this gym and on the live-stream. It’s extraordinary what he has been able to build. It truly is an expansive family, and we welcome Coach Sears into it.”
That family of former players, assistants, colleagues, and friends filled the room, and a few shared their memories of a coach and a community that shaped them. “The most important Amherst quality he represents is the power of relationships,” said Wasserman. “Year after year, Hix brought a group of young men together, from all over the country and world, who had no connection to one another, and he made them a team. He created a culture where we competed like warriors on the court and loved each other like brothers off of it.”
When it was time to unveil the court’s new name, Hixon was surrounded by basketball players past and present. Several of them pulled back the large cloth on the floor between the sideline and three-point line on the home-bench side to reveal “HIXON COURT” in crisp white type outlined in purple above Hixon’s elegant signature.
“I love you guys for what you’ve given me,” said Hixon. “I don’t think I can ever pay it back. Thank you so much for the honor, in my workplace of 42 years, at the college that I truly love.”
Major donors to the project are recognized with gratitude on a plaque hung near the entry doors to the court in LeFrak Gymnasium.
Photos courtesy of Slate Taylor ’25.