With the end of the 2018-19 season, Kevin Lofton completed his 24th year as member of the Nebraska-Kearney men's basketball coaching staff.
In March 2015, he was elevated to head coach after fellow co-head coach Tom Kropp announced his retirement. Lofton is the 21st Loper men's basketball coach in school history and the fourth since 1970.
Over the last four seasons, UNK has gone a combined 67-54 (55.4 win pct.), recording the program's first back-to-back 20-win seasons in a decade. The Lopers advanced to 2016 NCAA Tournament Round of 32 and reached the MIAA (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Assoc.) Tournament semifinals twice. In five of the last six years Kearney has reached the MIAA Tournament quarterfinals in Kansas City.
Individually, Lofton has seen nine different players tabbed All-MIAA over the last four winters, including forward Connor Beranek. A 2016 All-American selection, he also was tabbed the 2015 MIAA Player of the Year and is currently playing professionally in Europe.
In 2017-18, forward Trey Lansman wrapped up a four-year Loper career with an All-Central Region selection. He became the fifth Loper to reach the 2,000 point milestone and was one of three seniors named All-MIAA.
In 2016-17, the Lopers went 20-10 to place third in the league. Despite losing Beranek and a three-time All-MIAA pick to graduation, UNK recorded the 26th 20-win season school history. Kearney went 12-3 in the Health & Sports Center and was among the highest scoring teams (79.8) in the league.
Individually, Lansman was named first-team All-MIAA with junior guards Ty Danielson and Yashua Trent, along with redshirt sophomore guard Isaiah McKay, named honorable mention All-MIAA.
A year later, Lansman and Kearney overcame a serious of injuries to post a 16-14 (11-8 MIAA) mark. Beating defending national champion Northwest Missouri State in January at the Health & Sports Center, the Loper rallied late to once again reach the MIAA Tournament.
UNK went 12-2 at home and averaged 77.6 points per night. Finally, the team had well over a 3.00 cumulative grade point average.
This past season a young Loper squad was involved in an unprecedented 16 games decided by 10 points or less. Picking up wins over nationally-ranked Colorado Mines and regionally-ranked Fort Hays State, the Lopers won 10 games, had two All-MIAA players and was among the league leaders in blocks. Off the court, the team had a 3.14 GPA for the 2018 fall semester.
During the 2015-16 campaign, UNK went 21-12 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in program history. Lofton was a coach on 11 of those NCAA teams.
The Lopers beat rival Fort Hays State in an NCAA Central Regional game in Sioux Falls, S.D., before falling to eventual national champion Augustana. The 79-67 win over the Tigers marked UNK's 21st all-time national tournament victory.
Tying for second place in the MIAA during the regular season, UNK reached the MIAA Tournament finals in Kansas City. The Lopers beat Lincoln and Missouri Southern State in K.C. to give the program its' 25th 20-win season. Lofton has been a coach on 12 of those 20-win clubs.
Individually, Beranek and Ethan Brozek, as well as Lansman, were named All-MIAA. Beranek (7th/1,870), a two-time all-region selection, and Brozek (18th/1,438) are among the top scorers in Kearney history.
In 2016, Beranek averaged 25.2 points per game, the second highest mark in Loper lore, with Brozek leading UNK in assists with 113. Beranek went on to earn All-American honors by two different outlets, becoming the fifth Loper in the D2 era to earn that status. All five were coached by Lofton.
Since his promotion from associate head coach, the Lopers have achieved a record of 223-179, including a 152-122 conference record.
Over Lofton’s 20 plus years on the UNK bench in various coaching roles, he has helped the Lopers reach 11 NCAA Tournaments, including two visits to the Sweet Sixteen and the 2003 Elite Eight.
Lofton also served as the team’s recruiting coordinator. Some of his recruits include All-American Nick Branting; 1,000-point scorers Chad Burger, Brian Dunagan, and Mike Gitt, and All-RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conf.) selections Richard Dionne, Chad Sheffield, Will Taukiuvea, Chris Dean, and James Lane.
In his second year as co-head coach in 2006-07, Lofton helped the Lopers reach the second round of the NCAA's. He and Kropp were named the RMAC Co-Coaches of the Year for a 24-7 mark.
Helping the Lopers reach the NCAA's during Lofton’s first two years was lefty post Dusty Jura. Lofton helped Jura develop into one of the best players in school history as was a two-time All-American who averaged a double double during his senior year.
Jura finished his career second on the all-time scoring list (2,158) and was named the 2007 RMAC Player of the Year. Subsequently, he had a lengthy professional career overseas.
In 2007-08, Lofton helped mold Garrett Lever into the RMAC Freshman of the Year and the NCAA Division II leader in steals per game. Lever is currently a Division I assistant coach. Next, Drake Beranek, Connor's older brother, was a first-team All-RMAC selection.
During the 2010-11 season, Lofton saw Mike Dentlinger be named the RMAC Freshman of the Year and also be tabbed a freshman All-American. In the Lopers final year in the RMAC, Dentlinger was a first-team All-RMAC choice.
When the Lopers joined the MIAA in 2012, Dentlinger earned Academic All-American honors for a second straight winter.
Prior to being named co-head coach, Lofton spent four years as UNK’s associate head coach from 2001-05. He came to Kearney as a graduate assistant in 1995 and was promoted to full-time status in 1997.
Lofton began his coaching career at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, Neb.
An Arizona native, Lofton played at Yavapai Community College (Ariz.) before transferring to RMAC-member Regis University (Colo.). He holds an undergraduate degree in Communications from Regis and a Master's degree from UNK.