SACRAMENTO -- Former Sacramento State head men's basketball coach Don Newman passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 60 years old.
Newman spent five years at the helm of the basketball program, coaching the Hornets from 1992-97. Sacramento State had recently moved from Div. II to Div. I status when Newman took over, and he guided the program through two seasons as an independent (1992-94), two years in the American West Conference (1994-96) and the team's first season in the Big Sky Conference (1996-97). Sacramento State is still a member of the Big Sky today.
Newman became the 10th head coach in Sacramento State history at the age of 34 when he was named to the position in June of 1992. Prior to Sacramento State, he spent five seasons as an assistant at Washington State under Kelvin Sampson.
After Sacramento State, he spent one season at Arizona State as head coach in 1997-98, and as an assistant at Oregon in 1998-99 before a 17-year coaching career coaching in the NBA. He was an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks (1999-03), New Jersey Nets (2003-04), San Antonio Spurs (2004-12) and Washington Wizards (2012-16).
During his tenure with the Spurs, Newman worked under head coach Gregg Popovich where he helped San Antonio to a pair of NBA championships (2005, 2007), two Western Conference crowns (2005, 2007) and five division titles (2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012).
After playing his final two seasons of collegiate ball for Idaho (1978-80) where he was the Big Sky MVP in 1980, Newman was a third round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 1980. He would pursue pro basketball and football opportunities over the next five years, including a three-year stint with the Montana Golden Nuggets of the CBA where George Karl was his head coach.
Although he never played collegiate football, Newman spent time in NFL training camps with the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets. He would eventually play in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1981–83), Montreal Concordes (1984), Ottawa Rough Riders (1985), and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1986) as a wide receiver.
RIP to Don Newman, who coached the Sacramento State Hornets from 92-97 before 17 years in the NBA as an asst. coach, winning 2 titles with Gregg Popovich's Spurs. One of coolest people you could meet. Gone too soon because of cancer at the age of 60.@SacHornetsMBB @sacstate pic.twitter.com/44ox23Vx0A— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) September 13, 2018