Jeff Bauer to lead men's basketball team

Grand Rapids Community College has tapped a coach with almost 30 years of experience to lead the men’s basketball team.

Jeff Bauer has experience at the NCAA Division I and II levels, including 11 years at his alma mater, Grand Valley State University.

“In each of his stops, he has proven to be a winner,” GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn said. “Coach Bauer is a strong teacher of the game and focuses on the academic and athletic development of young men.”

Bauer will be the eighth coach since 1965 to coach GRCC’s men's basketball team.  He replaces Luke Bronkema, who had a successful three-year run with two National Tournament appearances: a sixth-place finish in 2017 and eighth-place finish in 2018.

The Raiders also made national championship runs in 2010, 2012, 2013. The team’s best season was a National Runner-Up finish in 1995, losing by just a single point. Bronkema left at the end of this season after he was promoted to associate executive director of the David D. Hunting YMCA in Grand Rapids.

“We were fortunate to have Luke Bronkema for the past three years, and I believe Jeff will continue to build on the foundation that Bronkema, Dave Selmon and Hall of Famer Gene Paxton built,” Firn said. “I believe Jeff's connections and experience recruiting NJCAA student-athletes will be an asset for our Raiders as they look to transfer to four-year institutions to continue their academic and athletic careers.”

Bauer's coaching career began in 1993 assisting Newaygo High School’s varsity and junior varsity programs. He left the program in 1996 to be a student assistant of GVSU’s basketball team while finishing his bachelor's degree in biology. Bauer was the volunteer assistant coach at Central Michigan University between 1997 and 1999 while earning his master's degree in athletic administration.

For the next three years, Bauer spent one-year stints at Lincoln Memorial University, with the Grand Rapids Hoops professional team and at Grand Rapids Creston High School as the boys varsity coach.  He then returned to CMU to serve as video coordinator and head assistant from 2003 to 2006.

Bauer begin his ten-year career at GVSU in 2006, working alongside head coach Ric Wesley until 2016.  His success there included winning over 72 percent of his team's games and participating in five NCAA tournaments including two Elite Eight appearances.

His best season there was during 2007-2008 when the Lakers went 36-1, and 18-0 in conference play, eventually losing in the Elite Eight while being ranked No. 1 in the nation.  The 36 wins marked the most ever by an NCAA Division II team.  That unforgettable season included an 85-82 exhibition upset over 8th-ranked Michigan State University that featured All-American Drew Neitzel.

During the past two seasons, Bauer helped West Ottawa High School's girls varsity team double its wins from the previous year.  He followed that up by helping Allendale High School's boys varsity team triple its win total from a year ago.

Bauer is in his third year teaching biology and chemistry at West Ottawa High School. He resides in Allendale with his wife, Jessica, and two sons.  

“Coach Bauer is well-connected to the West Michigan community,” Firn said. “He’ll be an outstanding addition to GRCC and our athletic program.”

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

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