When searching for a head women’s basketball coach, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin was seeking a passionate, driven individual who could build the Bulldogs into a championship program. He found the ideal person in Vic Schaefer, who enters his second season as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
A veteran coach of 29 seasons, Schaefer made an immediate impact in Starkville as he began the process of building the Bulldogs into a program that consistently rates among the best in the nation.
Junior Martha Alwal benefitted from the arrival of Schaefer and his staff, as she led the SEC in double-doubles (16), rebounding (9.7 rpg) and blocked shots (2.6 bpg) en route to earning All-SEC honors and the C Spire Gillom Trophy for Mississippi’s top women’s college basketball player.
Schaefer’s defensive mindset helped the Bulldogs to an immediate improvement in the SEC, claiming big league victories against in-state rival Ole Miss, Arkansas and Missouri before capping the year with a thrilling 50-38 upset of No. 11 Georgia in which the Maroon & White Bulldogs held UGA to five field goals in each half.
The high-pressure defense keyed State’s league wins, as the Bulldogs held foes to 27.9 percent from the field and 16.7 percent (14-of-84) from beyond the arc.
Schaefer stresses to his squads to score, get to the free-throw line or both. The Dawgs did that as they registered their best free-throw percentage (70.7%) since 2004, including a school-best 1.000-percent tally (18-for-18) against UC Santa Barbara.
Schaefer plans to build his Mississippi State program the same way he has at every stop in his coaching career, with intense, high-pressure defense and compiling some of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes.
He knows his plan can succeed in Starkville after seeing the successes enjoyed during 15 seasons on the staffs at Texas A&M and Arkansas. During his tenures in Fayetteville and College Station, Schaefer’s defenses helped his squads to the postseason all but once (his first season at Texas A&M) while averaging 22 wins a year. Schaefer, who has been part of 426 wins in his 26-year collegiate coaching career, has become one of the nation’s premier teachers of defense, earning the moniker the “Secretary of Defense.”
His defenses helped Arkansas and Texas A&M to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. In his first season in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks advanced to the Final Four before making three more trips to the second round. With his alma mater, he won a national championship while helping the program to a pair of Sweet 16 appearances, an Elite Eight showing, two trips to the second round and a first-round berth.
In his nine years as associate head coach to friend and mentor Gary Blair at Texas A&M, his teams consistently were atop the Big 12 in turnovers caused, steals, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio.
In 2011, his smothering defense topped the nation in turnover margin en route to guiding the Aggies to the NCAA national championship in the program’s first trip to the Women’s Final Four. That squad also earned Texas A&M’s first No. 1 national ranking while finishing the season with a 33-5 record, the most wins in school history.
The following season, his final Texas A&M squad finished first in the Big 12 in turnover margin en route to advancing to a fifth-straight conference tournament title game and the Sweet 16 in the team’s seventh-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Schaefer was also part of Texas A&M squads that won two Big 12 Tournament titles (2010 & 2008) and the conference regular season title in 2007. In addition to the 2011 national championship, Schaefer helped coach the Aggies to the 2009 Sweet 16 and the 2008 Elite Eight.
Not only has Schaefer proven himself as one of the nation’s premier defensive coaches, but he has also been one of the top recruiters in women’s basketball, helping ink nine Top 20 recruiting classes during his tenures at Texas A&M and Arkansas. His strong reputation as a coach and recruiter earned him BasketballScoop.com’s 2009 Assistant Coach of the Year.
While at Texas A&M, he played an integral role in the Aggies finishing among the country’s Top 10 signing classes four-straight years. His final class with the Aggies rated as the nation’s No. 2 signing class, and he helped land the nation’s top class during the 2011 national championship run. In addition to 2012’s No. 2 class and 2011’s top-rated class, the Aggies’ 2010 signing class ranked No. 5 nationally and tops in the Big 12. A year earlier, he helped ink the Big 12’s No. 2 class and the sixth-best in the country.
In 2007, Schaefer earned the opportunity to coach the United States William Jones Cup Team, leading that squad to a bronze medal in Taipei, Taiwan. He also joined with Athletes in Action to coach some of the top women’s college players in the nation. The only associate head coach to be named head coach of the USA Jones Cup Team, Schaefer guided Team USA to a 4-2 record in pool play with wins against Japan, New Zealand, Korea and Chinese Taipei.
The opportunity to earn international coaching experience came a year after Schaefer helped lead the 2005-06 Aggies to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That season saw the program finish third in the Big 12, its highest finish at the time, and sign the Aggies’ first McDonald’s All-American.
The 2004-05 season saw Texas A&M advance to the WNIT Elite Eight, the first postseason appearance under Blair and Schaefer. That season, Schaefer helped ink the nation’s 20th-best signing class, a year after their initial class rated No. 27 in the country.
Schaefer had the opportunity to accompany Blair to his alma mater following a six-year stint as associate head coach at Arkansas from 1997-2003. During that run, he helped the Razorbacks to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four berth in his inaugural season. The following year, Arkansas went on to claim the WNIT national championship. While in Fayetteville, he helped tutor Shameka Christon, who would go on to earn SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC honors.
Schaefer went to Arkansas after serving as head women’s coach at Sam Houston State from 1990-97. In his next-to-last season there, he was tabbed the Southland Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Bearkats to their most wins in a decade (18). During his tenure at SHS, he tutored either the SLC’s Freshman or Newcomer of the Year in three of his final four seasons. In his first year at the school (1990-91), he coached Sierena Autman to Southland Conference Player of the Year accolades.
A native of Austin, Texas, Schaefer served as a men’s assistant coach at Sam Houston State (1987-89) between stints as the assistant boys basketball coach and head tennis coach at Houston’s Milby High School. As a player, Schaefer was an all-state performer at Houston Lutheran High School before going on to play two seasons at Alvin Community College.
Schaefer is a dedicated family man. He is married to the former Holly Davis, who played basketball at Arkansas State and later served as an assistant coach at UT Arlington. The couple has 18-year-old twins, Blair Nicole and Charles Logan.