New ORU basketball coach already proving to be calm under pressure

Coach Russell Springmann shares his vision and plans Friday for ORU’s basketball program with Tulsa news crews.

Rachel Schrader, Editor-In-Chief

With Paul Mills’ departure to Wichita State, Oral Roberts University had an “immediate” plan for replacing him as the men’s basketball coach.


“When I heard that Paul Mills was leaving ORU, my immediate reaction was that Russell Springmann should be our next head coach,” President Billy Wilson said during a Friday press conference. “Over the last couple years, Coach Springmann has distinguished himself at ORU with our players, our administration and our fans. Much of the success in our program can be attributed to Russell in both his recruiting and his coaching skills.”


Students, faculty and sports fans alike gathered in the Global Learning Center to hear from Wilson, Director of Athletics Tim Johnson and the newly promoted head coach.


In his more than 25 years of experience with three universities and the Oklahoma City Thunder organization, Springmann has assisted in more than a dozen NCAA Tournament teams’ appearances, six of which made it into the “Sweet 16.”


Additionally, Springmann’s been named the No. 1 high major assistant in the nation by Fox Sports in 2008 and notably recruited 14 McDonald’s All-Americans, including T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant.


“Coach Springmann has been the lead recruiter for most of the roster, including three-time All-American Max Abmas and a roster that has truly changed ORU forever,” said Johnson.


Following President Wilson and Johnson’s comments on his career progressions and achievements, they both characterized Coach Springmann as a leader committed to empowering student athletes into whole leaders. Springmann attributed these opportunities to God and his family.


“This has been an incredible journey not just for me but for my family,” Springmann said in between tears. “Without His mercy and grace, none of this would be possible. I went from being in a position where I thought I was failing my family to this incredible opportunity, and there’s only one reason as by God’s grace.”


The coach listed other athletic department staff responsible for helping him reach this opportunity.


“I want to thank Coach Mills for everything that he’s done in my life,” said Springmann. “He took a chance on me five years ago and I’m forever grateful for him giving me the opportunity and allowing me to be a part of everything that has happened here.”


As he was expressing gratitude to the audience, the fire alarm suddenly blared and flashing lights went off. Despite the disruption, Springmann persisted with his speech about plans for the upcoming basketball season.


“The goal is again to advance an NCAA tournament,” said Springmann. “It is to win championships. But more importantly, it is to advance young people in their walk with the Lord.”


Springmann expressed his anticipation for serving student athletes in all areas of life. He aims to take on this responsibility with the honor and values of the university.


Shortly before concluding and as the fire alarm quieted,  the audience applauded Springmann. They were applauding not only for his words but for his even demeanor during the unnerving sounds. Johnson rejoined the coach at the podium and shared a final thought.


“You wait your whole life for the right moment,” said Johnson. “You do everything right … and there’s a false fire alarm. But I tell you this, if you handle everything as smooth as you did right there … .”