10
the key because players are staying
committed to getting their degrees and
playing for four years.”
One of the student-athletes who has
benefited from playing for Farris is
junior guard Heather Wheat. She was
named a 2012-13 NAIA All-American
honorable mention selection as a
sophomore.
She finished the 2012-13 season
ranked No. 7 in NAIA Division II in
points per game at 19.5, No. 10 in total
assists with 149, and No. 11 in total
scoring with 585 points. Wheat was
named to her second-straight KIAC all-
conference team in 2013. To date, she
ranks No. 26 in career points, No. 7 in
total assists, and No. 16 in career steals
in IU Southeast history.
Coach Farris has taught me how to
recognize a team’s defenses better and
has helped me learn how to attack a
zone defense,” Wheat said. “We have
worked on my shot at times as well.
He has also helped me realize what
my  role is on our team and what is
expected of me.” 
Farris has had eight straight winning
seasons, including last season’s 17-
13
campaign. Wheat credits their
triumphs to the preparation the team
puts in before games.
Not only does he get us physically
prepared, he prepares us mentally by
going over what’s expected from other
teams before each game,” Wheat said.
There have been a few times when
Farris has thought about moving
to another division or to return to
coaching abroad, but his love of the
area and the success he has had at IU
Southeast has kept him here.
I like the area; my only brother lives
in Louisville. And after living abroad,
I knew that if I wanted to rise in the
coaching ranks I would have to move
around a lot, and I was not willing to do
that,” he said. “I enjoy the University
and coaching these kids. I am very lucky
to have been able to coach as many
talented and smart kids as I have over
the years.”
Farris has been on the sidelines at
IU Southeast for 25 years. He was
hired in 1989 to coach both volleyball
and women’s basketball. He led both
programs to their first appearances
at the NAIA national tournament and
has built the IU Southeast women’s
basketball program into a perennial
contender.
Farris, who now solely coaches
women’s basketball, has become one
of the most successful coaches in the
NAIA. He ranks No. 7 in career victories
in NAIA Division II women’s basketball
with a record of 425-297. He has
taken a total of 11 teams to the NAIA
tournament and has a combined 16
KIAC regular-season titles between his
tenure as the volleyball head coach and
women’s basketball coach.
Former athletic administrative
assistant Donna Harvey spent six and
a half years working in the athletic
department and saw firsthand how
Farris developed student-athletes and
built both the volleyball and women’s
basketball programs into consistent
winners.
He is an excellent coach,” she said.
His work ethic and knowledge of
the sports are keys to his success. I
think the fact that he was a player
and a coach professionally was
very beneficial and gave him good
experience before he took the coaching
jobs at IU Southeast.”
Farris played basketball in Europe for
10
years and coached both men’s and
women’s basketball in Norway, but he
had no previous volleyball experience.
It was not easy the first time I ran a
volleyball practice, and the girls could
tell that I did not know that much about
the sport,” he said. “I watched a lot
of coaching videos, and Don Hardin,
the volleyball coach at the University
of Louisville at the time, let me watch
some of his practices and talk to him
about the game, which was really
helpful.”
Eventually Farris led the volleyball
team to four NAIA tournament
appearances, including three straight
from 2002 to 2004, the last year
Farris was the volleyball coach at IU
Southeast.
It was a great feeling when we were
able to get to the national tournament,”
he said. “I had actually worked harder
at becoming a good volleyball coach
than a good basketball coach because
I lacked the background in it. I went to
clinics and read a lot about the game, so
it was really rewarding.”
IU Southeast ranks in the bottom five
percent of NAIA schools in providing
athletic aid to student-athletes, yet
Farris has made the most of the
talent he has been able to bring to the
Grenadiers.
It has amazed me how he was able to
stay at the top or near the top of the
conference year in and year out with
the limited amount of scholarship
funding he had,” said Bernie Merkel,
Farris’ assistant basketball coach for
20
seasons. “I can’t tell you how many
players he lost in recruiting battles
because of the lack of scholarship
money.”
Farris credits much of his success in
women’s basketball to the stability
he has had on the team in both the
coaching staff and lack of player
turnover. Merkel’s commitment to
the program for 20 seasons is another
reason the team became successful
because the coaches stayed in place for
decades.
One of the reasons we have been
really successful over the past few
years is that our turnover has been
really low,” Farris said. “That has been
His work ethic
and knowledge
of the sports
are keys to his
success.”
Donna Harvey