For 26 years the Geneva men’s basketball program has been in the capable hands of Jeff Santarsiero. Serving as an assistant coach under former head man Jerry Slocum when he first arrived on campus in 1988, Santarsiero is set to begin his 16th year as Geneva’s head coach. His 19 year tenure is the second longest in the 120 years of Geneva basketball. Not only has he become a fixture on the sideline, but Santarsiero has also seen a great deal of success during his tenure.
Santarsiero picked up his 200th Geneva victory in 2009 and is currently sitting with a record of 264-265 at Geneva. Beginning his coaching career at his alma mater of Nyack College, Santarsiero posted an overall record of 72-32 as the head coach of Nyack’s women’s program.
A graduate of Nyack College, Santarsiero was a standout player during his college days. Recording 1,848 points on the college level, Santarsiero led the NCCAA in scoring during his junior season. In that same year, he finished seventh in the NAIA with a scoring average of 25.2 points per game. "I truly believe my experiences as a player at Nyack has been very beneficial to my coaching career at Geneva," says Santarsiero. "There is so much that goes into a student-athletes experience in a college program, it is extremely helpful to have those first hand experiences to help your players understand what is most important."
What is the most important aspect of a Santarsiero coached team is clearly the work that is done off the court. While Geneva basketball continues to thrive on the court, it is the work in the classroom that make Santarsiero the most proud. "We have graduated every player that has come through our program during my tenure," explains Santarsiero.
"We take great pride in the example we set on and off the court. If our guys don’t get it done in the classroom, they won’t have the chance to excel on the court."
Basketball was certainly not the only driving force in Santarsiero’s life during his time in college. Earning a sociology undergraduate degree at Nyack, Santarsiero’s first job was as a travel coordinator for World Relief Corporation. He also worked as a social worker in New York City from 1983-88 before turning his attention to the coaching ranks. He earned his master’s degree in Sport Management from the United States Sports Academy in Mobile, Al. "I am equally proud of my accomplishments off the court as what I have done during my coaching tenure," says Santarsiero. "I think it gives our student-athletes a better understanding of what needs to be done in the classroom to have the privilege of playing the game they love."
In addition to his coaching duties, Santarsiero teaches in the physical education department at Geneva. Santarsiero has also been very active in the administration of the NCCAA. His tenure as a chair on the NCCAA national committee expired last year, but he does remain the east regional chair for men’s basketball. "Our relationship with the NCCAA is a very important one for our program and for Geneva," says Santarsiero. "We feel it to be very important to have a voice on the national level and I have been fortunate enough to provide that voice for Geneva."
In the year 2000, Santarsiero was honored by his college alma mater with an induction into the Nyack College Hall of Fame for his efforts on the court as a player. "Obviously this was a special achievement in my life," Santarsiero said. "It was a thrill to be inducted, but I’m not about individual awards and accolades. All of my focus goes into the continued development of our program and each individual who makes Geneva their home."
"Geneva has certainly played a huge role in the life of me and my family for the past 20 plus years. There is no place I would rather be and no other student-athletes I would rather be working with. I have great kids, great assistant coaches and a special place to work."
In 2013 Santarsiero was honored for his work, dedication and service with the induction into the NCCAA Hall of Fame.
Santarsiero resides in Chippewa with his wife Sue and son Drew, who is the Director of Basketball Operations for the team.
Contact Coach Santarsiero by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Geneva is one of only 118 colleges in the U.S. to be approved for membership in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), and is a founding member.