Lorenzo Romar Biography

April 4, 2002

Washington men's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar was named to head up the program at his alma mater on April 3, 2002. Romar, a point guard for the Huskies on UW's 1978-79 and 1979-80 teams, is the 18th head coach in Washington's 107-year history. He is the first African-American coach to lead the Washington basketball program.

Washington is Romar's third stint as a head college coach. During three-year tenures at Pepperdine (1996-1999) and Saint Louis (1999-2002), he gained a reputation as a hard-working coach admired by his peers for his integrity and dedication to his team. Over the past six seasons he has amassed a career coaching record of 93-88 (.517).

At both Pepperdine and Saint Louis, he helped to revive programs to a competitive level. He led the Waves to a pair of second-place finishes in the Big West Conference and an NIT invitation in 1999. During his first season at Saint Louis, the Billikens upset top-ranked Cincinnati in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament and went on to win the championship and the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Championships.

Twice during the past two seasons Romar's Saint Louis teams defeated Washington. The Billikens handed the Huskies a 69-61 defeat on Dec. 5, 2000 in Bank of America Arena at Hec Edumndson Pavilion and beat Washington 71-70 on Dec. 29, 2001 in St. Louis.

A former assistant coach at UCLA, Romar experienced one of his greatest coaching moments in Seattle in 1995. That season the Bruins beat Arkansas 89-78 in the Kingdome to win the NCAA Championship and finish 31-2. Cameron Dollar, an assistant coach on Romar's Saint Louis staff, was one of the stars for the Bruins during that national title contest, replacing injured point guard Tyus Edney in the starting lineup.

Romar built a reputation as one of the nation's top recruiters while an assistant at UCLA (1992-1996) and was credited with recruiting much of the talent that formed the core of the Bruins' championship team.

In three years at Saint Louis, Romar compiled a 51-44 (.537) record, including wins over nine different conference champions.

Romar was named head men's basketball coach at Saint Louis on March 26, 1999. In his inaugural season at the school, Romar guided the Billikens to a 19-14 record, including an upset of top-ranked Cincinnati. In directing Saint Louis to the Conference USA Tournament title and an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament, Romar became the first Saint Louis coach to accomplish either feat in his debut season. The 1999-2000 season marked many other notable firsts as well:

  • Under Romar, the Billikens won their first conference tournament championship in the program's history.
  • The Billikens knocked off a No. 1 team, Cincinnati, for the first time since the 1951-52 season when the Bills handled top-ranked Kentucky.
  • Saint Louis became the first No. 9 seed to win the C-USA Tournament.
  • The Billikens won the first Bud Light Showdown by knocking off intrastate rival Missouri for the first time since the 1970-71 season.

After reaching the NCAA Tournament in his first season, expectations were high for Romar's2000-01 squad. The team impressed with a 17-14 record, and became the first team in Conference USA history to defeat perennial power Cincinnati in back-to-back games. Romar also directed the Billikens to season sweeps of eventual conference champion Charlotte and rival Louisville, the first time Saint Louis had swept the Cardinals in 35 years.

Riding the momentum from back-to-back successful seasons, the 2001-02 Saint Louis squad faced a tough schedule that included 14 games against teams that earned postseason invitations in 2002. The Billikens finished with a 15-16 overall record, but lost seven games by five points or less, including a two-point loss to NCAA Elite Eight competitor Missouri and a four-point heartbreaker to Cincinnati, which later earned a No. 1 seed in the 2002 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Despite the close losses, Romar's players rallied to win their last four games entering the Conference USA Tournament, but were eliminated by Tulane, 50-47, in the first round.

Prior to coaching at Saint Louis, Romar amassed a three-year record of 42-44 (.488) at Pepperdine, including 36 wins in his final two seasons with the Waves. He took control of the Waves' program in February 1996 and quickly established himself as a top recruiter, bringing in talent that would guide the Waves to a postseason appearance in 1999.

In his second year, Romar staged a significant 11-game improvement over the previous season to finish with a 17-10 record and earn a second-place finish in the West Coast Conference, just one game behind champion Gonzaga. Pepperdine was the second-most improved NCAA Division I team in the country in 1997-98, trailing only the University of Connecticut.

In his final season at the school, Romar guided Pepperdine to a 19-13 record and a bid to the Postseason NIT, the Waves' first postseason appearance in five years.

Prior to his stint at Pepperdine, Romar was the top assistant under Jim Harrick at UCLA from 1992-1996. There he recruited such talent as Toby Bailey, Cameron Dollar, J.R. Henderson, Kris Johnson, Jelani McCoy and Charles O'Bannon.

UCLA's record during Romar's tenure was 97-28 (.776), including Pacific-10 Conference championships in 1995 and 1996.

A native of Compton, Calif., Romar graduated from Pius X High School. He earned his associate degree from Cerritos Community College in 1978 before receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in 1980.

During his sophomore year at Cerritos, he led the Falcons to a 23-8 record, averaged 14.1 points per game, set the school record for single-season assists and earned first-team All-League honors. Romar was inducted into the California Community College Hall of Fame in 1992.

Romar transferred to Washington in 1978, and played two seasons for legendary Husky head coach Marv Harshman. He was a two-year starter for the Huskies on the 1978-79 and 1979-80 teams. He averaged 6.0 points and 1.4 rebounds as a junior and 9.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a senior. Washington was 11-16 overall and 6-12 in the Pac-10 during his first year as a Husky. As a senior, the Huskies went 18-10 overall and 9-9 in conference play.

Romar, a captain during his senior season, was named most inspirational by his Husky teammates both years.

A seventh-round selection by the Golden State Warriors in the 1980 NBA Draft, Romar totaled 1,716 career points and 1,009 assists in a four-year NBA career with the Warriors (1980-83), the Milwaukee Bucks (1984) and the Detroit Pistons (1984-85).

Following the 1984-85 season, Romar joined Athletes in Action (AIA), the athletic division of Campus Crusade for Christ, a non-denominational ministry that began in 1951 at UCLA.

Romar started 224 of 233 games during his seven years as a player for AIA. In 1991-92, he averaged 24.4 ppg, 5.9 apg and 1.8 spg while shooting 54.5 percent from the field, including 49.5 percent from beyond the three-point arc and 83.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Romar set single-game records while an AIA player for most points (54) and assists (21). He remains the team's all-time assists leader (1,689) and ranks No. 2 in all-time scoring (4,244). In 1992, the then 34-year-old Romar scored 45 points against Michigan's 'Fab Five' freshmen, who would go on to reach the NCAA championship game.

In 1989, Romar took on co-head coaching duties for AIA, in addition to his continued responsibilities as a player. The year prior to Romar's assuming the coaching position, AIA went 12-25, the worst record in franchise history. Just three years later, Romar directed the 1991-92 AIA team to 21 wins, including a victory over NCAA Final Four participant Florida.

Romar participated in his first USA Basketball coaching assignment during the summer of 1997, serving as an assistant coach under Rick Majerus for the United States' 22 & Under Team that competed at the World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

Romar and his wife, Leona, have three daughters - Terra, Tavia and Taylor.


Year School W-L Conf. Postseason
1996-1997 Pepperdine 6-21 T-6th
1997-1998 Pepperdine 17-10 2nd
1998-1999 Pepperdine 19-13 2nd NIT
1999-2000 Saint Louis 19-14 T-7th NCAA/C-USA Tourney Champ
2000-2001 Saint Louis 17-14 7th C-USA Quarterfinal
2001-2002 Saint Louis 15-16 5th
Career 93-88 (.517)

Now on Pac-12 Network
6:30 AM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network
Get Pac-12 Networks
Unable to get Pac-12 Network?
Contact your provider ▶
Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder