‘This is home’: Now AD and coach at alma mater Wheaton College, Mike Schauer couldn’t be happier

Mike Schauer is standing near midcourt at King Arena. It’s hard to find a more appropriate place for him to talk about all that Wheaton College means to him.

“This is home,” says Schauer, the longtime men’s basketball coach and now also the athletic director at Wheaton College. “It’s hard for me to describe. I sometimes catch myself walking around this place — I got a little emotional there — walking around this place, just thankful for it.”

Schauer played for the Thunder and still ranks in the school’s top 10 in 3-pointers and assists. He met his wife, Elissa, at Wheaton College. His oldest son, Jacob, played basketball for him at Wheaton College and met his fiance, former women’s basketball player Annie Tate, here. His middle son, Kyle, plays on the soccer team. Youngest son Caleb is graduating from Wheaton North and will play for his father.

Even several extended family members got their degrees from Wheaton College.

“This place and the people here have really been an impact in my life at a depth that I almost can’t articulate,” he says, especially proud to have seen his sons benefit from the school.

  Mike Schauer is the longtime Wheaton College men’s basketball coach, who has also been recently named athletic director. Joe Lewnard/

After being a team captain his senior season in 1992-93, Schauer joined coach Bill Harris’ staff as an assistant coach. In 2000 he moved to Eastern College in Pennsylvania as men’s basketball coach and athletic director, his first experience as an AD. He followed two seasons at Eastern with seven at Gordon College in Massachusetts.

In 2009 Schauer returned to his alma mater, succeeding Harris when Harris retired. Since then the Thunder has gone 250-148, reaching the NCAA Tournament Final Four in 2019 for the first time in program history. Including his other stops, Schauer is 396-241.

Schauer became interim AD in May 2022 when Julie Davis left the job. The interim tag was removed last October.

“I’ve loved it,” Schauer says of being AD. “People sort of have the perception that this is something Wheaton is allowing me to do. I asked to do both. I’ve enjoyed it. It certainly has its challenges, but I’ve really enjoyed it because I genuinely like both roles.”

He oversees an athletic department with one of the best Division III football programs in the nation. The Thunder went 10-2 last season, though the team was overshadowed in its own conference by archrival North Central College, which has won two national championships in the past five seasons and went to the national championship game last December.

“We’re the Big Ten of Division III athletics,” he says of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.

His relationship with football coach Jesse Scott is strong, Schauer says. And he has the highest of hopes for the football program.

“We’d like to win the national title,” Schauer says. “We’re sort of on the cusp of that, if that makes sense. But I think it would be a crowning achievement for both of us to take those final couple of steps and figure out how to bring a national championship to our football program, without compromising the other things that we value at a place like Wheaton. That’s my vision for it, I’d like to win a championship for it.”

  Mike Schauer is the longtime Wheaton College men’s basketball coach, who has also been recently named athletic director. Joe Lewnard/

The Thunder men’s basketball team suffered an uncharacteristically poor season in 2023-24, going 6-19, 5-11 in the CCIW. Still, Schauer is confident the team can get back on track, and he likes the incoming recruiting class, calling it his “deepest” class yet.

“Obviously, we had a great year my first year and a really difficult year this year. And I don’t know exactly how much of that percentage is related to both roles. I don’t think it’s zero percent, but I don’t think it’s as much as people think either,” he said. “The hard part is you’re always going to choose the work of the AD, so if they conflict you’re always going to choose the departmental needs. There’s just more people involved and more at stake there.”

  Mike Schauer is the longtime Wheaton College men’s basketball coach, who has also been recently named athletic director. Joe Lewnard/

He has learned to lean on associate coach Jon Panner more for basketball, as he does associate AD Bill Stukes and assistant ADs Kent Madsen and Brett Marhanka for his administrative responsibilities.

While Schauer sets aside a part of his day to recruit men’s basketball players, he also sets aside time to recruit donors. Fundraising is a big part of any athletic director’s job, and the Wheaton athletic department is in the middle of a $23 million capital fundraising campaign that’s part of the college-wide “Faithfully Forward” $225 million campaign.

The athletic department capital campaign would update Wheaton’s athletic facilities, such as the King Arena basketball locker rooms, the weight room and training room. Facilities are a big part of recruiting athletes for any school, and Wheaton is no different.

Because Wheaton attracts students and student-athletes from all over the country, Schauer has been traveling the country speaking to potential donors, particularly “elite” donors who could make a six- or seven-figure donation.

It’s an easy sell for him. He sees Wheaton College as a special place, with a combination of nationally recognized academics, nationally competitive Division III athletics and the “strong Christian faith piece.”

He wants to share and improve the place that means so much to him.

“This is home,” he says again, emphasizing the word “home.” “And I mean that in both the literal and figurative sense. This is, it’s home. In a spiritual sense it’s my home. In a professional sense it’s my home. In a personal sense it’s my home. It’s a real privilege to be able to coach and work at the place you played. That’s a pretty unique experience.”

  Wheaton College’s head coach Mike Schauer during men’s basketball at the King Arena in Wheaton against Augustana College on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. Mark Black/
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