Indiana lost a legend last night. Royce Waltman lost his bout with cancer last night and has passed away at the age of 72. Waltman, most recently had been doing color commentary for Indiana basketball from 2010 to halfway through this most recent season. The Maryland native played his college career in Pennsylvania but was a long time assistant for Bobby Knight in the early 80s. From 1982-1987, Waltman played in integral role in helping the program battle through hard times and re-finding their place at the top of college basketball.
In 1988 he moved on to a head coaching position at DePauw University where he took the Tigers to the D-III National Championship game and compiled a record of 100-36. His 5 year tenure at DePauw that included multiple #1 teams and a Coach of the Year award landed him and his 1990 squad in DePauw's Hall of Fame in 2003. But his success story would not end there.
Waltman went on from DePauw to coach at UIndy for 6 seasons, leading the D-II Greyhounds to a 103-62 record. Though his post season success wasn't quite up to what he had at DePauw he still took a conference title for a team that was wondering somewhere in the college basketball abyss before his arrival. His success at both DePauw and Indianapolis led him to his final coaching position at Indiana State.
The Sycamores had Waltman for 10 years where he took them to the NCAA tournament in back to back years in 2000 and 2001. Though his final record at ISU wasn't the prettiest he took Indiana State to its first 20 win season since that legendary Larry Bird squad. Ultimately his record cost him his job. After the firing he dropped this memorable quote. "If you get fired for cheating, you can get hired right back again. If you get fired for losing it's like you've got leprosy, so young coaches need to bear that in mind. Cheating and not graduating players will not get you in trouble, but that damn losing. ..." That was in 2007 and we're seeing every day that he was pretty spot on.
After leaving Indiana State and coming aboard the Indiana radio team, he remained in a position to coach. He worked with Roncalli as an assistant for a couple of years before his health started to fail him in that aspect. Before the game against Notre Dame this past season, Tom Crean took the mic at Bankers Life and asked the crowd to keep Waltman in their thoughts and prayers. Notre Dame would be his last game.
While we are saddened to lose such a man, we're happy that we had the opportunity to know him. Royce Waltman was a basketball force in Indiana and not just in Bloomington. He touched the lives and basketball traditions of the entire state. From color commentary to coaching, it is hard to imagine a corner of Indiana that didn't in some way or another feel the impacts of Royce Waltman. We're proud to have been able to call the Maryland native a Hoosier.