Bobby Champagne has over 30 years experience in college basketball as both a player and a coach. He spent several years as a Division I assistant in the Sun Belt Conference, the Pac-12, the Big 12, the A Sun and the WAC before becoming a head coach at the Division II level. His enthusiasm, passion for the game of basketball and his devotion to his players and the communities he as been a part of is what makes Champagne more than just a basketball coach.
Bobby Champagne was named the head coach for the University of North Alabama men’s basketball team on April 3, 2003. He became the sixth head coach in the Lions’ program and brought UNA to a Gulf South Conference tournament appearance in his first year. In his second season with the Lions they appeared in the conference tournament again in addition to having great success against some of the top teams including a win against No. 1 Southern Indiana and perennial Division II power Kentucky Wesleyan.
The 2005-06 season, the Lions earned a berth into the NCAA tournament for the school’s first in 10 years. During the 2007-08 season, Champagne led his team to the DII, South Regional Championship and a spot in the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass. In 2008, UNA was Gulf South Conference East Division Champions and Champagne earned 2008 Gulf South Conference East Division Coach of the Year and South Region Coach of the Year by the NABC. During that season the Lions had a record of 27-9 and broke numerous school records.
The 2013 Lions returned to the NCAA tournament and advanced to the second round of the South Regional Tournament. UNA captured the 2014 Gulf South Conference Tournament Championship and earned the right to play in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time under Champagne. This was also the first time UNA had been to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments since the 1995-96 season.
Known for their exciting brand of basketball, Champagne’s teams were able to ramp up community support while remaining at the top of the conference standings in scoring and rebounding. The 245 wins during Champagne’s 15-year career, ranks him third all-time at UNA. During his tenure at UNA he coached 2 All-Americans, 19 All-Conference players, 7, 1000-point scorers and four participants in the NABC All-Star game. With Champagne’s emphasis on academics, 70% of the players who completed their eligibility under Champagne, earned a degree with several earning Master’s degrees.
Prior to UNA, Champagne spent one season at UTEP and spent some time with Hall of Fame coach, Don Haskins in El Paso, Texas. Champagne was also an assistant at Georgia State University, working under another Hall of Fame coach, Charles “Lefty” Driesell. The Panthers finished with a 20-11 record, won the Atlantic Sun regular season championship and earned a spot in the NIT. That season, Georgia State defeated two Top 25 teams (No. 23 Georgia, No. 15 Saint Joseph’s).
Champagne has also been assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette (1997-2001), Oklahoma (1994-1997) and Washington State (1991-1994). Each of those teams earned a right to participate in the NCAA tournament. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at South Alabama for Ronnie Arrow. Champagne was a part of the only team in the University of South Alabama’s history to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Jaguars defeated in-state rival Alabama that season. Aside from coaching with Lefty Driesell, Champagne has also coached with Kelvin Sampson at Washington State University and Oklahoma University.
During his coaching career, Champagne has been a part thirteen postseason tournament teams (eleven NCAA, two NIT) five conference championships and three conference tournament champions.
Champagne received his Associate Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Jefferson Davis Community College in 1987, a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from South Alabama in 1990 and a Masters of Professional Studies degree from the University of North Alabama in 2016. He was a two-year basketball letter-winner at South Alabama and was named to the Sun Belt Conference all-academic team during the 1987-88 season. He was also a President’s List honoree (1990) and a Dean’s List student (1988-90) while playing at South Alabama. He was also a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor fraternity during his time in community college. He is married to the former Anna Baxter and the couple has thee sons, Charlie (18), Will (16) and Joe (14) and a daughter, Annie (12).
Champagne and his entire family have been active members of the community during the past 15 years. He and his wife joined the American Cancer Society to assist in raising money for cancer research. In doing so, Champagne became the only Division II coach to host a Coaches vs. Cancer Gala raising nearly $750,000 during his tenure for local patients. Champagne has always been involved with numerous civic groups in the community, working to raise money for an endowed scholarship and also participated with Special Olympics and American Red Cross each year. He and his staff hosted a free basketball clinic for special needs children and felt it important for his team to give back to the campus and the community. Champagne Brunch was hosted by the Champagne family for 10 years. The brunch was not only a fundraiser for the men’s basketball team but a basketball 101 for ladies to learn a bit more about the sport. The day gave his team the opportunity to interact with fans. Champagne’s youth basketball camps have been a staple for countless children with over a hundred registered for each summer session.