By Dominick Puente
After 22 years of being at the helm of the South Plains College men’s basketball program, Steve Green is joining Mark Adams’ coaching staff at Texas Tech University.
“Coaching here in Levelland has been the best experience I have ever had in my career,” said Green. “When we moved to Levelland in 2000, we didn’t know what to expect at the time and we had no idea how long we would be here. Before long, we realized we had lived here longer than anywhere else in our lives and that was after year eight.”
An NJCAA Hall of Fame coach, Green is a native of Miami, Oklahoma; however, Green and his wife Teresa have turned Levelland into their hometown with the friendships and relationships formed in the Levelland and West Texas community.
Coach Green has made Levelland and the SPC men’s basketball program a power house spanning over two decades. With an overall record of 706-192 in his coaching career, Green’s coaching record at SPC ends at 552-152.
Green attributes his success at South Plains to the support of the college and overall community.
“There are a lot of good people here and they appreciate the players, staff and show us they care each year,” said Green. “The people at the school are just outstanding.”
For Green, the difference is apparent between other junior college programs and SPC.
“I tell people all the time, as a coach you may have a question or way to improve the program, but they might tell you sorry, we can’t do that,” explained Green. “Here at the college, it has always been yes we can do it or give us a little time and we can figure out how to do it.”
“Everything here was always positive. There had been a good relationship between the athletic department, campus, and administration. You don’t find a situation like this in junior college coaching. It is second to none and this is the best junior college basketball job in the country. Having coached multiple junior colleges, this is by far the best opportunity in junior college.”
With the amount of coaching success Green has achieved during his 22 years at SPC, coaching opportunities become available, but the desire to leave Levelland and SPC never crossed his mind.
“We never had the thought of leaving west Texas,” explained Coach Green. “Even now in my transition to Lubbock I’m just glad we are staying in the area with the roots we have set here.”
For Coach Green, the schools that win in athletics are the ones that want to, and SPC has shown that the school wants to be successful.
“This school wants to be on the national junior college scene, and they are,” said Green. “Our track team came back with another national championship again, our women’s basketball team earned a regional title for the second year in a row and went to the nationals. We as a men’s team were fortunate to do the same and it was an amazing year for the college.”
The athletic programs at SPC continue to dominate the junior college level and Coach Green does not see that type of effort coming to an end any time soon.
“Those athletic programs are all set up to compete at the highest level and keep bringing home more success,” said Green. Coach Green led the Texans to the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 11 times during his time at SPC. Three national titles from 2008, 2012, and 2018 positioned Green to be the fourth coach in NJCAA history to win three national championships.
The Texans won eight conference titles and seven regional championships under Green.
“A lot of former players have congratulated me and I tell them it wouldn’t be possible without them,” said Coach Green. “I get a lot of credit, but there are more people involved than just me. I tell the guys all the time, if we win we all get rewarded.”
The overall success of the program is a great feeling for Green, but what is equally satisfying is being able to provide a second home for his players in a town that shows they care.
“There are times where these kids wished they could stay longer,” said Green. “When you talk about bringing somebody in from a metropolitan city to a tiny town in West Texas, it doesn’t take long for them to enjoy their time here on the campus with the students and overall support they receive.”
I have former players that reach out and say they wish SPC could be a four year program because of the time they spent here.”
That feeling he described is what played a role in Green making the decision to move to Levelland in 2000 and begin his coaching career as a Texan.
“Coaching at Midland and Howard made me familiar with the South Plains area,” explained Green. “I knew Joe Tubb and the influence he had in the conference and in the NJCAA.”
I understood what he wanted in an athletic program and all that made the opportunity extremely attractive. He was an athletic director that wanted to win but wanted to do things in a way that would make everyone proud of how they went about it. I was just old enough to understand that at the time.”
After Tubb retired in 2016, Roger Redding stepped in and brought the west Texas values with him as Redding was a Whitharral native.
“By that the time that transition happened. I had lived out here as long as most people in Levelland,” said Coach Green. “I absolutely mean it when I don’t have a single complaint about my time here. From each academic department, maintenance department and entire campus, everything has been great. That is why I have been here for 22 years. The option to go elsewhere and coach was a possibility, but I had no desire to leave this wonderful place and mess with happiness.”
Mark Adams and his staff will begin year two of his coaching campaign in Lubbock. For Coach Green, the opportunity is a chance to be competitive on one of the biggest stages in college sports and a great way to end a coaching career.
“When Coach Knight came to Tech, that is when I first became interested in what he was doing. After Coach Knight left, Billy Gillispie came to the area for a year and he was a really great friend. When Chris Beard took over we became good friends during his time here,” said Green. “Mark and I have been friends for over 40 years and I even had the privilege to be in his wedding. When he got the job here in Lubbock, the possibility of working together wasn’t an option at the time, but we were able to get it done now. Getting to coach with a great friend is nice and it’s even better that I don’t have to keep playing against him.”
An opportunity that has Green excited and eager to go to work, he is excited to be a part of the competitive environment division one basketball brings.
“With this being my last hurrah in coaching, it’s great to it end up at a top 25 program in the country and especially in the Big 12,” said Green. “This program holds a special spot in the hearts of people in west Texas and it feels good to know I can be a part of it.”
A sense of pride can be found throughout west Texas with Brownfield native Adams leading the Red Raider basketball program, former Wayland basketball coach Rick Cooper and now former SPC coach Green on the staff.
“It’s amazing to see and it shows that there can be basketball roots and pride in west Texas that can compete on the national stage,” said Green. “It could not be any better.”
For Green, staying Levelland is a wonderful outcome, but passing the main SPC campus everyday will not be the same.
“I really do owe a great dept of gratitude toward this city and college for the amazing things I’ve been able to experience here,” said Green. “I’m going to miss all of it, every bit of it. I drive right by campus to and from work and
I am going to wonder what is going on. Due to NCAA rules, I can’t be on campus, but I can go and sit in my wife’s office and chat. I sat down with the president the other day and I didn’t want to leave. We always talk about our hometowns and where we are from, but I have lived here longer than my own hometown.”
In 1988, Green debuted as the head coach of Howard College where he spent three seasons and earned two WJCAC titles, one regional championship, and an overall record of 81-19.
After his time at Howard, Green led Midland College to a regional championship and an appearance at the National Tournament.
Green was the Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi from 1999-2000. From 1994-1999 Green served as the Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at San Diego State University. From 1991-1994: Coach Green was the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Midland College.
Coaching milestones for Green include:
–NJCAA National Champions (2007-08, 2011-12, 2017-2018)
–NJCAA National Runner-Up (2014-15)
–NJCAA Coach of the Year (2007-08, 2011-12, 2017-2018)
–WJCAC Coach of the Year (1988-89, 1989-90, 2006-07, 2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-2017)
–Coach of eight WJCAC Championship teams at South Plains, Howard (1989-90, 1990-91), SPC (2001-02, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-2017, 2020-2021)
–Coach of nine Region V Championship Teams: Howard (1990-91), Midland (1993-94), SPC (2001-02, 2002-03, 2007-08, 2011-12, 2014-15, 2017-2018, 2018-2019)