Interview with Jim Iverson, former South Dakota State University Basketball Coach

One of the individuals I was looking forward to interviewing for “Cloddy” was Jim Iverson who coached SDSU basketball in the 50’s and 60’s. I wanted to get his perspective on life as a coach in the North Central Conference during the 50’s and 60’s when my dad was coaching at USD. It was a great rivalry then and still is today.

I was unable to contact him by phone, but was told where he had coffee each morning with his friends. I went there early one morning and saw two large, round, tables surrounded by gray hairs. I hadn’t ever met Jim so I went to one of the tables and asked if a “Jim Iverson” was here. Five guys pointed there finger at Jim and I introduced myself. I told him I’d like to interview him for the book. We went to a private booth, but the noise level would make taping the interview impossible. I told Jim we needed a quiet place and he suggested a nearby church.

I began the interview, which lasted for two hours, by asking him about his days playing high school and college basketball. Jim is older now, but was sharp as a tack during our time together. It was a delightful interview. He played basketball for Kansas State, played in a Division I national championship game, was drafted by the Boston Celtics, played against such NBA greats as Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman. Was a great high school player in South Dakota. Started his coaching career as an assistant at K-State. Told me the story of how he got hired by SDSU.

At SDSU, Jim’s teams won three NCAA Midwestern Regional titles qualifying the Jacks for the Divison II Elite 8 tournament and winning the national championship in 1963. During the five year stretch from 1957-1963, USD and SDSU would combine winning five regional titles in seven years. The Coyotes and the Jacks had some memorable contests – especially the 1957 playoff to see who would qualify for the postseason tourney. Both teams finished 11 and 1 in conference play. The playoff game at Huron, a neutral site, was one of the more memorable games in Jim’s career – which the Coyotes narrowly won.

Dad and Jim recruited the same South Dakota boys – and he told me what recruiting was like back in the day. Although the two coaches and schools had an intense rivalry, they were both gentleman and shared a good laugh once in awhile. The respect was mutual. There were also some other pretty good coaches in the North Central Conference in that era including Bill Fitch at UND and Norm Stewart at State Teacher’s College (today Northern Iowa).

At the end of our interview, which I think Jim enjoyed, he told me, “Kim, I wouldn’t agree to an interview with any coach’s son, but I would for Cloddy’s son.”

Jim was one of the great coaches in South Dakota history and is a very fine man.

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