LA MIRADA, Calif. --- In preparation for Biola University’s application for acceptance into the NCAA Division II longtime basketball coach and athletic director Dr. Dave Holmquist had a decision to make.
The 27-year AD and 36-year basketball coach had to choose whether he would prefer to continue in his role leading the athletic administration or continue to coach his beloved men’s basketball team as the NCAA would not allow him to continue with dual roles.
Naturally, the seventh-winningest coach in the history of men’s college basketball made the decision to step down from his role as the athletic director and continue his run as the longest-tenured basketball coach in Biola’s history.
“[Serving as athletic director] was enjoyable, but also challenging at times,” said Holmquist. “As I look back now it was more challenging than I realized at the time. It was very nice this season to go into practice without feeling preoccupied with other matters.”
Beginning in January of 2016 Holmquist transitioned into the role of Senior Associate Athletic Director as Dr. Bethany Miller took the reigns to help lead the Eagles into a new era of athletic endeavors.
“When I engage with college administrators who are familiar with NAIA and GSAC, invariably Dave is mentioned as someone deeply admired and respected,” said Vice President of Enrollment Management Greg Vaughan. “He is known among peers as a wise and thoughtful person. I've had the honor of working with Dave for all of his 38 years at Biola, and I can certainly attest to his wisdom and care for people."
Holmquist remains actively involved in the athletic administration, and still handles the day-to-day operations of mostly everything pertaining to the NAIA and the Golden State Athletic Conference.
“Dr. Dave Holmquist has had, and continues to have, a profound impact as a leader for Biola Athletics,” said Miller. “His example in his care for student-athletes, coaches, and our NAIA and GSAC colleagues have created the vision for athletics and the team culture that we have in our department.”
As the 2015-16 academic year came to a close last week it marked the end of the 27th year with Dr. Holmquist serving some time as the Athletic Director.
It brings to a close a reign that saw the Eagles add golf, men’s tennis, swimming and diving and several women’s programs that were not varsity level programs prior to Holmquist coming into the AD position.
He was also responsible for helping lead Biola into the Golden State Athletic Conference back in the mid-1990s, which has been a fantastic host and forum for competition for the Eagles over the past 20-plus seasons.
During his time as the Athletic Director Biola’s teams have won 21 GSAC Championships, five GSAC Tournament Championships and have recorded nine top-20 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup finishes (and 17 top-50 finishes).
“Of all Dave's contributions as Athletic Director, I am most thankful for his ability to hire well,” said Vaughan. “He has assembled an extraordinary group of coaches and administrators who I believe will serve Biola well in the coming decades. God has gifted Dave with the ability to quickly discern character and potential, and that has been such a gift to Biola."
“One of the best things about working at Biola, maybe the best thing, is the people you are surrounded by,” said Holmquist. “Decisions we’ve made about personnel have been significant. The key to being an athletic director is about making the right choices about bringing the right people into the group.”
The many people Holmquist has worked with over his four decades at Biola could definitely attest to that fact he falls under the label of “the right people.” In fact, Holmquist was so well respected that he never even had to apply for the athletic director position.
He was hired as the men’s basketball coach at Biola back in 1978. He spent those first 10 seasons coaching and teaching, but not serving in an administrative capacity despite having served as the athletic director at Fresno Pacific when he was first out of college.
When the university was looking for a new athletic director in the spring of 1989 the provost, Dr. Sherwood Lingenfelter, set up a meeting with Holmquist and asked him to step in and take the job.
It was not an immediate yes from Holmquist, primarily because he was enjoying teaching and coaching so much, but after taking time to pray and consider the option he decided to accept the job and went on to hold onto it for 27 years.
“I worked for good people,” said Holmquist. “The presidents were supportive, easy to communicate with and people that were easy to trust. The Vice Presidents, Greg Vaughan and Wes Wilmer, were also supportive, encouraging and helpful people.”
Last month, at a reception celebrating Holmquist’s time as athletic director, there were folks from three different generations that took some time to come back to campus to reminisce, reflect and recognize the gracious leadership this man has provided to the athletic department for nearly three decades.
“I am so thankful to have worked for him, and now together with him, leading our institution toward a new future,” said Miller. “His philosophy of leadership and the humility and wisdom of his character have impacted us all tremendously, and as a young athletic director I aspire to learn from his experience, knowledge, and gracious character.”
The narrative was similar from those who worked with him back in the 70s, 80s and 90s and those who still work with him today. His genuine heart for his staff, student-athletes and school has left an imprint on all who have in contact with him over the years, and each person who spoke had at least one touching personal encounter to reflect on that truly illustrated that heart.
So, as we enter the 2016-17 season, which could be Biola’s final season in the NAIA, Dr. Holmquist turns his attention solely on his 30-4 No. 5 men’s basketball team and sets his sights on another GSAC Championship and a 21st NAIA National Championship appearance.