WBCA Hall Of Fame Coach Eli Crogan Passes Away

Legendary high school basketball coach and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Eli Crogran passed away over the weekend.   His 42 year career included a long tenure at Watertown High School and a final stop at Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam.    Crogan was 87 years old.

The visitation and service are scheduled for Friday July 22 at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church at 209 North 9th Street in Watertown from 1-5 p.m.  The service at 5 p.m.  

Crogran was awarded the 2021 Legacy Leadership Award by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.  Here’s what they said about his illustrious career.


“Eli Crogan’s illustrious basketball coaching career spanned 42 seasons and included several schools: Soldiers Grove High School (now North Crawford High School), Fennimore High School, Watertown High School, the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and finally Wayland Academy. Altogether, his teams won 562 and lost 320 games. This included 15 conference championships (two of them during his four years as head coach at UW-Whitewater). Thirteen regional championships, two sectional championships, and three trips to the state tournaments. He is a graduate of Gays Mills (now North Crawford HS) and Luther College (Decorah, Iowa).

Coach Crogan is best known and respected for his success he experienced as head coach at Watertown HS. During his 22 years of mentoring, the “Goslings,” won eleven Wisconsin Little Ten Conference Championships, compiling an overall 66 percent winning average. Two of his Watertown teams advanced to the WIAA State Tournament; the 1982-83 team was the Class “A” runner-up. His Wayland Academy “Wolverines” finished runner-up in the final WISSA state tournament in 1999-2000. He received strong support from his family, wife, Karen (married 60 years), sons Craig and Curt, daughter, Cori and his basketball family of players, coaches, managers, cheerleaders and fans.

Coach Crogan served the WBCA in various roles. He was a member of both the All-Star Coach Selection Committee and the All-Star Player Selection Committee. He was named WBCA District “Coach of the Year” four times. He was an assistant coach for the WBCA South Class “A” All-Star team in 1985 and head coach of the 1987 team. He was also head coach of the Wisconsin All-Star team that played the Illinois All-Stars in 1987. He also headed the selection committee for Mr. Basketball and chaired the WBCA Mentor program for new coaches. In 2009 Eli was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Humanitarian and Service Award. It was later renamed the Eli & Karen Crogan Humanitarian and Service Award.

Coach Crogan was a popular clinic and banquet speaker, and was the television color analyst for the WIAA State Tournament for nine years. He directed summer basketball camps for over thirty years, where he was an excellent teacher of basketball fundamentals.

Crogan’s MTIXE “slogan” (Mental Toughness, Intensity, eXtra Effort) is synonymous with Watertown Basketball. His philosophy as a coach was to “teach a positive approach for his players in basketball and in life”. The Watertown Basketball program was highly respected and highly rated in the state. His message to players, “Work hard in the classroom, work hard at practice and be the best you can be. If you do this, what goes on the scoreboard will take care of itself.” The program developed winners on and off the court and a “Tradition of Excellence.”

If you have a question about this story or have an idea for a future local sports story, please email Wade Bates at ddsports@dailydodge

Photo from WBCA website