The former Southeast coach has accepted a job with an NAIA school in South Dakota.
Former Southeast Missouri State men's basketball coach Gary Garner has returned to the collegiate coaching ranks.
He couldn't be happier.
Earlier this week, Garner was named the coach at Dakota State University, an NAIA program in Madison, S.D.
"I am really excited about this position," Garner said Friday.
Garner spent nine years as Southeast's coach, from the 1997-98 through 2005-06 seasons. His contract was not renewed following his final campaign.
Garner compiled a 126-132 record and led Southeast to its only Ohio Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles, along with the program's lone NCAA Division I tournament appearance. All came in the 1999-2000 campaign.
For the past two years, Garner has served as the assistant coach for Iowa Energy, a team in the NBA Development League.
"The last two years I've had the opportunity to coach some of the best basketball talent in the country," Garner said. "We've had five or six players get up to the NBA.
"But my heart is really in college basketball. When this opportunity came along, Barb [his wife] and I went to the interview and we just fell in love with the little university and the potential of the basketball program."
Dakota State went 7-22 last season, including 2-12 in the Dakota Athletic Conference.
"They have had very little success over the years, but I like the idea of turning the program around," said Garner, who won a Division II national championship at Fort Hays (Kan.) State and also coached at Drake before coming to Southeast.
Garner also is excited about the fact his oldest son Matt -- a student assistant under his father at Southeast -- will be an assistant at Dakota State.
"To walk out on the floor with my son as an assistant, I can't even describe how that's going to feel," Garner said. "I'm just really excited about the whole situation."