Griswold basketball court dedicated to championship coach Lori Kerans
Lori Kerans Court dedicated during half-time ceremony
On the evening of Saturday, Dec. 10, attendees of Millikin University's women's basketball game against rival Carthage College were also privileged to witness a momentous occasion in Big Blue athletics history. During half-time, a ceremony was held to dedicate the prominent blue basketball court inside Griswold Physical Education Center to former coach Lori Kerans. Now, with Kerans’ signature emblazoned in white across the sidelines, the basketball court is officially named Lori Kerans Court.
The basketball court dedication was initially announced at the conclusion of Millikin’s 50 Years of Women in Athletics celebration as a surprise for Kerans, who served as a major organizer and supporter for the celebration weekend.
— Lori Kerans, Director of Community Engagement/Recruitment
- It was a total and complete surprise. I was absolutely overwhelmed, I was speechless, and I think that is the first time that has ever happened.
The decision to dedicate the basketball court in Kerans’ honor came as no surprise to those who have met Kerans or knew even a fraction of her legacy in athletics at Millikin University. As a Class of 1985 graduate and an Academic All-American, Kerans’ accomplishments began before her coaching success and long-spanning career at Millikin. Kerans competed on Millikin’s first softball team and was a member of the women’s basketball team that competed in the first NCAA Division III Tournament, in which the Big Blue placed third in the nation.
Following her graduation from Millikin, Kerans continued to build her outstanding legacy by coaching the women’s basketball team from 1986 to 2018, amassing a career record of more than 555 victories, 11 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) titles, 11 NCAA Division III tournament appearances and an NCAA Division III Championship title in 2005, which remains the only national team championship in Millikin history. Kerans was also the first female athletic director at Millikin and in the CCIW.
Despite her decorated career at Millikin, both in athletics and across several University departments, Kerans remains humble and cognizant of the trailblazers who made her success possible. One such figure is Harriett Crannell, who is credited with beginning a women’s basketball team at Millikin, two years prior to the landmark passage of Title IX.
“The honor is awesome, but the responsibility is something I think we at Millikin take very seriously. We want to do as well for the current and future students as they did for us,” Kerans remarked, commenting on the inspiring success and outstanding culture of the current women’s basketball coach, Olivia Lett, and her team.
During the half-time dedication ceremony, former dean of students and retired director of Alumni & Development, Jan Devore, spoke to the audience about Kerans’ career accomplishments, as well as her outstanding influence at Millikin as a whole. “Lori has had a remarkable impact on this university as a student-athlete, a coach and always a champion of the Big Blue,” Devore said, discussing her long-standing friendship with Kerans. “Through the years, our paths crossed often, especially after she became the women’s basketball coach and I served as announcer for each of her teams’ home games, for a total of 25 years. I was an eyewitness to how well she coached and mentored her student-athletes, and I became a true fan of Lori and each of her teams. Especially the year she led her players to the NCAA Division III Championship title in 2005.”
Devore also gave acknowledgement and thanks to everyone who raised funds to honor Kerans with the court renaming:
— Jan Devore, Former Director of Alumni & Development
- Today, we close the circle of 50 Years of Women in Athletics at Millikin with the official dedication of the court. On behalf of Millikin University, I offer my sincere thanks
Looking ahead, Kerans lauded Coach Lett for her influence and the Big Blue women’s basketball team she has developed since taking over in March 2018. “I was in awe of the way Olivia and her staff have created the culture, created the game plan, recruited the right people for the right positions and then taken their philosophy forward. I’m incredibly proud and I love watching them,” Kerans commented.
Since she stepped down from her role as head coach of women’s basketball in 2018, she has remained influential across Millikin’s campus community by inspiring countless students through roles in Student Life, Admission, Enrollment and Alumni & Development. “I don’t miss the Xs and the Os and all that behind the scenes work of being a head coach,” Kerans said. “The thing I miss is the relationships with players and their families. This court dedication is a shared honor. I truly meant it when I talked to one of my former players and told her that it is her name on the court, right there with mine.”
Following the court dedication ceremony, the Big Blue women’s basketball team defeated Carthage College with a score of 56-41, improving their CCIW record to 3-0.
Donations made to fund the Kerans Court will also support women’s athletic initiatives at Millikin. To give online, visit bit.ly/keranscourt.