Usually, newspaper photos of basketball coaches show them barking at the refs, hollering at players or drawing up Xs and Os in a huddle.

Yet arguably one of the most memorable photos of Bob Burchard is of the iconic Columbia College men’s basketball in a tucked-away locker room of Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium on March 23, 2009. There Burchard is, still in his full suit and dancing on a table — with a surfer’s pose — as players double over in laughter.

That was the night his team advanced to the championship game of the NAIA Tournament – one of the greatest achievements in his 31 seasons.

“When I first got here, people used to always talk about Columbia College as being the best-kept secret,” Burchard once said. “We’re not that much of a secret anymore. I think through athletics we’ve raised the profile of the institution.”

He and the Cougars certainly did, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly honored Burchard with its first Pinnacle Award, bestowed on individuals for their dedication and lifetime of giving to athletics in the Show-Me State. The award was presented during the Enshrinement in Columbia presented by Great Southern Bank on November 3, 2019.

Burchard (MSHOF 2013) called it a career in March 2019, compiling a 785-269 record over those 31 seasons. He led the Cougars to a 22 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournaments, with his 2009 team finishing as the national runner-up.

His teams earned 14 American Midwest Conference Tournament championships, and Burchard earned 12 AMC Coach of the Year honors.

In all 31 of those seasons, he also served as Columbia College’s athletic director and expanded the department. When he retired, the department had added 13 sports over the years, bringing the total to 17.

Which helps explain why he was voted the AMC Athletic Director of the Year six times.

What a career it’s been.

Burchard, a 1975 graduate of McLean High School in Virginia, spent his entire coaching career in Missouri. He began at Jameson High School in 1980 and then moved on to Missouri Western State University, working seven seasons under coach Gary Filbert (MSHOF Legend) and Skip Shear.

That time with Filbert clearly had Burchard prepared when he walked through those gym doors at Columbia College back in 1988. At the time, the program had not had a winning season in 15 years.

In March 1989, his first season concluded with the Cougars finishing 18-12. The next two seasons produced 30-win seasons – with his second year seeing Columbia College advance to the Sweet Sixteen in its first NAIA Tournament. In 1991, the Cougars won their first conference title.

Eight of his first nine seasons produced 23 wins each, and the bar was raised. Other than the 2009 team, the 2013 team was notable for attaining a No. 1 national ranking – a program first – and finishing 35-1 in the Elite Eight.

“I think any successful group learns how to care for and about each other when things are going well and when they’re not,” Burchard said. “If you care for somebody, you pick ‘em up. You help ‘em out. You put them in a good position to succeed and you help them reach their goals because you care.”

As an A.D., the athletic department increased its overall budget tenfold, upgraded the gymnasium into a multi-million dollar Arena of the Southwell Complex, and co-joined it with the Fred and Gene Koepke Fitness Center. The college also hosted the NAIA Softball Championships several times and the NAIA Women’s Volleyball Championships as well.

Along the way, Burchard served with USA Basketball as a court coach for the U18 National Team trials and was on the USAB Collegiate Committee, responsible for selecting players and coaches for the men’s collegiate events. He also was on the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Board of Directors. In 2010, he received the NABC’s Guardians of the Game Leadership Pillar Award.

Even better, he has long had the support of his wife, Faye, and children Jennifer and Bret. He and Faye moved to St. Joseph after she graduated from East Carolina University.

“In 1980 we adopted Missouri as our home,” Burchard said. “In Jameson, St. Joseph and Columbia coaching, teaching, and mentoring young adults was our passion. At the time, winning games and playing for championships seemed very important. As I reflect on these experiences, I now understand what we really were doing was collecting friends, and for that I am forever grateful.”