‘Live and breathe basketball’: DWU assistant coach at peace in the gym

Tyler Vaughan, far right, watches the action as an assistant coach for the St. Cloud State University men's basketball team. Vaughan was recently named the assistant coach at Dakota Wesleyan University.

Tyler Vaughan traded bankrolls for basketballs.

After starring at the Minnesota State University Moorhead, Vaughan worked as a credit analyst for a bank in Minnesota. It took six months to realize it wasn’t for him.

So he cashed in his chips and got into the family business: basketball.

“I live and breathe basketball,” Vaughan said. “It’s what I’ve done forever. It feels awesome to be able to do it every single day. … I love the grind. I love being a part of it and hopefully I can continue to do it going forward.”

Vaughan, 26, began climbing up the coaching ladder after his banking stint. He was a graduate assistant coach at the University of Sioux Falls, followed by spending last season as a St. Cloud State University assistant coach.


Vaughan’s budding coaching career took another step as he was recently named the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball assistant coach. He replaces Jacob Brandl, who was named the McCook Community College (Nebraska) head men’s basketball coach in May.

“He brings a different dimension into the program a little bit being at the stops that he’s been, which is good,” DWU Athletic Director Jon Hart said about Vaughan. “We haven’t really had a new face in the program in that role for a while. I think there’s a lot of things that he can bring to the table that are new and a lot of things that will keep going and continue our tradition.”

Currently, Vaughan is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the basketball program. DWU head coach Matt Wilber is on a personal leave of absence and his timetable to return is undetermined, said Hart.

Vaughan is learning firsthand about DWU’s winning tradition. Last season, the Tigers qualified for their sixth-straight NAIA Division II basketball tournament and also became one of four active NAIA programs to reach 1,500 program wins.

Vaughan has also been blown away by the community support surrounding the university and the athletics department in general.

“I am just really excited to be here and really appreciate being a part of the program and the school and the culture here,” Vaughan said. “It’s very unique and I am very fortunate to be here.”

Vaughan comes from a coaching family. His father -- Bob Vaughan -- accumulated a 632-171 record in 33 seasons as the Braham (Minnesota) High School boys basketball coach. The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer led the Bombers to three state championships.

Vaughan’s brother -- Josh -- is currently an assistant coach for the Northern State University men’s basketball team. Prior to that, Josh was the head coach at Dickinson State University for three seasons. He also spent time on coaching staffs at the University of Mary, Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State and Wofford College.


The family coaching tree started with Tyler's grandpa Dale Vaughan, who coached football at Shakopee (Minnesota) High School for 25 years. The football field in Shakopee is named Vaughan Field in his honor.

“Coaching just kind of runs through our family,” Tyler said. “I don’t know what it is.”

Tyler played five seasons for his father at Braham. The all-state guard erupted for 3,340 career points and set a then-state record for 3-pointers made (495).

At Moorhead, he graduated as the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made (289) and recorded 1,474 points. Vaughan and the Dragons advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in the 2014-15 season.

Now that college basketball grind will only help with his ability to connect with players.

“I can relate to guys on and off the court,” he said. “Obviously it’s a little different with COVID and everything is just different, but it’s still basketball. It’s still guys going to school. They are young guys and I can relate to them on a personal level.”

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