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William & Mary hires Dane Fischer as head men’s basketball coach

Dane Fischer, William & Mary (Courtesy: TribeAthletics.com)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (TribeAthletics.com) – William & Mary Director of Athletics Samantha K. Huge announced on Tuesday that Dane Fischer will serve as the 31st head men’s basketball coach in Tribe history. Fischer, a 16-year coaching veteran, comes to W&M after spending the last four seasons as the top assistant at George Mason.

“When the advisory group and I developed the ideal profile of our next head coach, we solicited input from our current team members, basketball alumni, and others who passionately care about Tribe Basketball,” Huge said. “We sought a leader who will attract and develop student-athletes of character who excel in the classroom, who will compete for—and win—championships, and who will serve as great ambassadors for William & Mary.  Dane Fischer is exactly who we need.

“He is a competitor. He understands what is required to win at a highly selective academic institution and he embraces all that makes William & Mary special. Throughout the process, Dane clearly articulated his belief that his role is to teach, mentor, and inspire the men in his charge while establishing a level of excellence befitting a Division I university.  He is a coach who wants to do all that he can to see his student-athletes realize their dreams, including participating in the NCAA Tournament. I am thrilled to welcome Dane, his wife Chelsea, and their two young children into our Tribe family.”

Regarded as a tireless recruiter, an elite basketball tactician, and one of the rising stars in the coaching business, Fischer has been instrumental in turning multiple programs into winners. Throughout his career, he has helped teams earn seven post-season appearances, six regular-season conference championships, three NCAA Tournament bids, three conference tournament crowns, two National Invitation Tournament berths and an NCAA Division III National Runner-up finish.

“I am incredibly honored to be the next head men’s basketball coach at William & Mary,” Fischer said. “There are very few institutions in the country that blend academic excellence with high-level athletics as well as William & Mary, and I can’t wait to get to know our current student-athletes as quickly as possible. My family and I look forward to immersing ourselves on this campus and in the Williamsburg community, as we strive to lead the Tribe to the top of the CAA and into the NCAA Tournament.”

Over the last four seasons, Fischer helped head coach Dave Paulsen in leading a turnaround of the George Mason program. In the two years prior to Fischer’s arrival in Fairfax and the school’s first two in the Atlantic 10, the Patriots won just 20 total games with a 32.3 winning percentage and eight A-10 victories. In each of the last two seasons, Mason finished in the top five of an NCAA Tournament multi-bid league, including going 11-7 in league play in 2018-19. In Fischer’s second season with George Mason, the Patriots enjoyed one of the top turnarounds in the country, improving eight games over the previous year to win 20 games in 2016-17.

“It’s a delight to welcome Coach Fischer, his wife Chelsea, and their wonderful family to William & Mary,” said President Katherine A. Rowe, who also thanked Huge and her advisory team for a successful search. “Coach Fischer fully embraces the William & Mary way and our core belief that we will win with student-athletes who flourish in all areas, academically and athletically. It’s an exciting time in Kaplan Arena; we look forward to a bright future with him leading our men’s basketball program.”

During his time at Mason, Fischer displayed his skills as a recruiter and coach, including serving as the lead recruiter for All-Atlantic 10 player Otis Livingston II. Livingston II finished his Mason career ranked fourth in program history in both scoring and assists, while starting program-record 132 games. In two of the last three seasons, the Atlantic 10 Conference’s Most Improved Player came from the Patriots in Justin Kier (2018-19) and Marquise Moore (2016-17). Both players earned all-league honors as well.

Fischer has won at each of his previous stops as an assistant. He helped lead Williams College to the NCAA Division III Championship Game and 30 wins in 2003-04, before heading to Rider University and aiding the Broncos in a school-record 23 wins and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) regular season crown in 2007-08. At Bucknell University, Fischer served as the program’s associate head coach and helped lead the Bison to four regular season championships in the Patriot League and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Most recently, he helped guide George Mason to the program’s best Atlantic 10 finish in back-to-back seasons, including 11 conference victories last season.

Serving as the recruiting coordinator, Fischer landed the most successful classes in program history at both Bucknell and Rider. A strong evaluator and developer of talent, Fischer helped two players get drafted into the NBA and play extended careers at the highest level. During his time at Rider, he mentored NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson, who spent nine seasons in the league after being selected 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2008. Mike Muscala, a Fischer recruit, was a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year and became the first Bucknell student-athlete to play in the NBA. He was a second-round selection in 2013 and is currently a six-year NBA veteran.

At Bucknell, Fischer helped Paulsen revitalize a program that finished second-to-last place the year before the staff’s arrival into a perennial conference champion and postseason participant. Over four of his final five seasons in Lewisburg, the Bison advanced to four national postseason tournaments. Bucknell won Patriot League regular season titles in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. The Bison went on to win the conference tournament in 2011 and 2013 to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Bucknell twice took part in the NIT during Fischer’s tenure, including an opening-round road upset at the University of Arizona in 2012.

During his time at Bucknell, Fischer brought in a total of 14 All-Patriot League selections, including eight on the first team and five all-rookie honorees. He recruited three Patriot League Players of the Year in Nana Foulland, Cameron Ayers, and Muscala, who finished his career as Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer. Not only did Bucknell succeed on the court with Fischer on staff, but in the classroom as well. The program claimed six Academic All-Patriot League spots, four Capital One Academic All-District selections, and one Academic All-American.

Fischer’s first stop as a Division I assistant coach came at Rider, where he helped turn the Broncs into a winner during his three seasons. As the program’s recruiting coordinator, Fischer recruited three all-conference and two all-rookie performers. His 2011 class graduated with the most career wins in program history.

Fischer’s first coaching stint came as an assistant for Paulsen at Williams College. In his two seasons, the Ephs went 46-11 and finished as the NCAA Division III National Runner-up in 2004.  Fischer was also the head coach of the junior varsity program in 2003-04.

During his playing days at Ithaca College, Fischer was a two-time team captain and graduated ranked among the top-10 in program history in career assists and steals. He was a three-year starting point guard and helped lead the Bombers to a berth in the NCAA Tournament and an ECAC Upstate New York Championship. Fischer was voted team MVP his senior year. A native of Minnesota, he graduated in 2002 with a degree in business administration and a minor in economics.

Fischer is married to the former Chelsea Chowning, who was a women’s basketball Academic All-American at the University of Kentucky, where she graduated with her doctorate from UK’s College of Pharmacy.  The couple has two children, a daughter Camryn (2) and a son Bennett (born in July of 2018).

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