Dwain Mintz is credited with turning the UW-Stout basketball program into a powerhouse that gained nationwide attention.
It took the winningest coach in UW-Stout history only four years to claim a championship in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, one of the most highly-regarded small school leagues in the nation.
Ken Anderson came on at UW-Eau Claire a few years later and their duels through the years became legendary, often determining a conference champion.
Mintz died Wednesday in Menomonie at the age of 90.
“I knew coming in that Dewey was the guy I had to beat if I wanted to win conference and get to the nationals,” said Anderson, who went head-to-head with Mintz for 21 seasons. “You knew you had to beat him; he wasn’t going to give you the game.”
Anderson pointed out that UW-Eau Claire had a 39-game conference winning streak, which started following a loss to UW-Stout. It also ended at the hands of UW-Stout.
In his 27 years at UW-Stout from 1963 to 1989, Mintz produced a 385-280 won-lost record, winning championships in 1966, 1969 and 1975 and making a deep run in the 1969 NAIA National tournament.
Joe Jax was an assistant to Mintz for 11 seasons and said preparation was a key to success.
“Dewey was a master teacher with a great perseverance for winning,” Jax said. “He believed there was a way to win every game and prepared his teams to do such.”
Teams never knew what they were going to face when they took on the Blue Devils. He was known to slow it down and hold the ball if that’s what it took to compete.
Eddie Andrist served two assistant coaching stints under Mintz and then acted as head coach for 18 seasons and said the loss of Mintz was not only to his personal family but his athletic family.
“I have known Dewey for 46 years and he has always been there for so many of us,” Andrist said. “Our success has been his success. He taught us well so we could go out and teach others. His legacy will live forever.”
Through the years, Mintz has been saluted many ways for his accomplishments as a coach and man. He has been inducted into six halls of fame and the Johnson Fieldhouse court was named in his honor in 2016.
Mintz earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mankato State University and a Ph.D. from Utah State University.
A fine athlete himself, he played in the Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals baseball farm systems and coached the UW-Stout baseball team from 1963-68.
“He was the consummate professional and his legacy is not only his success as a coach, but how he mentored his athletes to live good lives by exemplifying great values,” said UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer, who first met Mintz as a student in the 1970s.
Mintz is best remembered for his 1966 team that went 20-3 and won the conference with a 15-1 record and his powerful 1969 club that went 22-4 and took the conference with a 14-2 record and went on to the fourth round of the NAIA Nationals.
But every team UW-Stout faced during his years knew they were in for a battle.
He was named named NAIA District 14 Coach of the Year in 1966 and 1973 and NAIA Area IV Coach of the Year in 1969. He produced 27 all-conference players.
Bench rival Anderson said it best: “Stout lost one of their legends.”
UW-Stout’s athletic department provided quotes for the piece