Don Verlin joined the University of Idaho family as head coach of the Vandal men's basketball team in March 2008 and brought an immediate change to a struggling program.
In his four seasons with the Vandals, Verlin has led the team to 69 wins, three top-three Western Athletic Conference finishes, three CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournaments, a 2-3 record against Associate Press Top-25 opponents, and a 42-18 (.700) record in home games. Additionally, Verlin's players have earned six all-WAC honors and one NABC All-District honor, and five have gone on to play professionally.
Verlin's first year at Idaho saw the team earn one of the NCAA's top turnarounds. The Vandals hadn't produced a winning season in a decade and were picked to finish last in the WAC. Idaho went on to post a 17-16 record overall and a 9-7 WAC slate, finish third in the conference and earn its first postseason victory since 1982 at the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. The team had a nine-win improvement and an RPI jump of 164 places.
In his second season at Idaho, the Vandals went 15-16 overall, picked up their first victory over a ranked opponent in nearly 30 years, won games at Utah, Seattle University and North Dakota State for the first time in school history and posted the biggest road win in the Idaho-Boise State rivalry series.
Verlin's third season in 2010-11, Idaho went 18-14 overall and again took third in the WAC with a 9-7 record. The Vandals qualified for postseason play a second time in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, put two players on the all-WAC squad and posted a second-straight win over a ranked opponent.
In 2011-12, Idaho was picked to finish fifth in the WAC, but the team won seven of its final eight games and finished the year at 9-5 in conference play for a third-place finish. The Vandals were the only team to beat league champion Nevada during the season and, along with the Wolf Pack, were one of just two teams to beat every other WAC squad during the year. Idaho qualified for its third postseason appearance under Verlin and knocked off UC Santa Barbara in the first round at Cowan Spectrum before falling in the second round.
Idaho's 33 WAC wins in four seasons under Verlin are nearly as many as the team's conference win total of the previous seven seasons combined. His 69 career victories are already sixth-most in school history and he is the first coach in Idaho history to win at least 15 games in each of his first four seasons. Before Verlin, Idaho hadn't beaten a ranked opponent since 1982, but the Vandals have two ranked wins in the last three seasons. He's also the first Idaho coach since Larry Eustachy (1990-93) to reach 50 victories in just three seasons.
Since Verlin took over for the 2008-09 season, Idaho's average final RPI ranking is 150, with a high of 135 and three years in the top 150 overall. In the previous seven seasons of Vandal basketball, Idaho didn't crack the top 150 once and had an average final ranking of 270th in the rating system.
Also noteworthy under Verlin is that Idaho is 4-0 on Senior Night, 4-0 in home openers, and 14-2 in games played at Memorial Gym. Idaho's 101-47 win over UC Irvine on Nov. 28, 2008 is the team's largest ever over an NCAA Division I opponent, its 77-47 win over Louisiana Tech on Dec. 31, 2010 is the team's largest over a WAC opponent, and its 79-55 victory at Boise State on Feb. 6, 2010 is the team's largest WAC road win.
Verlin also helped improve the culture of the program off the court by spearheading the Readers As Leaders program and participating in the YES Clinic. Readers As Leaders became a very successful program in its first year as the entire Idaho basketball program helped Moscow's elementary-aged children find joy in reading. Since its inception, the total number of school and student participation in the program has increased significantly every year. Nine area elementary schools and more than 2,500 students participated in the program in 2011-12. The staff also has volunteered with NCAA coaches from around the country in the YES Clinic at the Final Four where they had the opportunity to provide instruction to the children of Detroit.
Prior to coming to Idaho, Verlin was the longest tenured assistant coach in Utah State history and had been with Aggie head coach Stew Morrill for 15 years, which includes their time together at Colorado State University in the four years before Morrill was hired at Utah State. The offensive guru for the Aggies, Verlin was a key component in Utah State's nine successive post-season appearances and nine-successive 20-plus-win seasons. The Aggies were among the best shooting teams in the nation throughout his tenure. They led the NCAA in field goal percentage in 2005 and ranked in the top five nationally in four of his final five seasons with the team.
"Don has been with me 15 years and it's always tough to see someone go when they've been with you that long," Morrill said in a statement released by the school. "I am very happy for him and his family. He will be a terrific head coach and we will miss having him as part of our program. Even though we will be competing in the same league, Don will always be family and that will never change."
Prior to Utah State, Verlin spent two tenures at Colorado State, as he was an assistant at CSU during the 1992 season before moving to Cal State Bakersfield for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. During his two seasons as an assistant in California, Cal State Bakersfield won back-to-back NCAA Division II national championships.
Verlin returned to Colorado State ahead of the 1995 season and then spent the next four seasons in Fort Collins. Prior to his first stint at Colorado State, Verlin was an assistant at Columbia (Calif.) Junior College from 1989-91. Columbia posted an 81-23 record in his three years there and won two conference championships.
Verlin, 45, graduated from Cal State Stanislaus with a degree in physical education in 1991. He earned a master's degree in education from Colorado State in 1993.
Born June 15, 1965 at Roseville, Calif., Verlin graduated from Del Oro High School at Loomis, Calif. He and his wife, the former Serena Shumway, have one son, Jacob, and one daughter, Sydnee. He also has a twin brother (Ron) who is an assistant basketball coach at Pacific.