The origins of the University of Missouri’s Wheelchair Basketball Team date to the late 1990’s when then-State Representative Chuck Graham, who was chairman of the budget appropriations committee, lobbied the Missouri legislature to begin funding for a collegiate wheelchair basketball team at MU. By 2001, the funding was established and in 2003 Rep. Graham and Vice Chancellor Richard Wallace approached Diane Dahlmann, the Director of Recreational Services & Facilities at Mizzou, regarding the creation of the team. Dahlmann accepted and the department then conducted a nationwide search to find a coach. Steve Paxton was subsequently hired in March 2004 as the first head coach of Missouri Tiger Wheelchair Basketball. Ron Lykins became the second head coach of the University of Missouri’s wheelchair basketball team in February 2009.
In the team’s inaugural season of 2005-2006, the roster was comprised of 5 student-athletes and finished with an overall season record of 6-27. Garrett French, John Gilbert, Steve Hathaway, Tom Knaus, and James Senbeta forged the path for wheelchair basketball at the University of Missouri. Garrett French, John Gilbert, Tom Knaus and Steve Hathaway became the first graduating class in the program’s short history. Upon graduation Gilbert was the leading scorer in Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball history with 2,119 points. French finished his career as the leader in rebounding with 1,193. Knaus contributed to the team on and off the court with his selfless dedication to the team. The contributions of these student-athletes continue to be the foundation for the future of our program. To honor their achievements, Mizzou retired the numbers of French, Gilbert, Knaus and Hathaway in April 2010.