Steve Belko


Steve Belko was a two-sport athlete at the University of Idaho, the third commissioner of the Big Sky Conference, and former men's basketball coach at Idaho State and later at the University of Oregon.

Steve was born in 1916 in Gary, Indiana. He attended Compton Junior College in California for a year with plans to play basketball at USC where his older brother Max played football. However, when USC assistant basketball coach Forrest Twogood was hired at Idaho, Steve hitchhiked over 1,000 miles to Moscow.

At Idaho, Steve was a two-sport athlete, playing guard and small forward in basketball, and halfback and quarterback on the football team. As a senior, he helped the Vandals to a 6-3-1 record in the Pacific Coast Conference, its best record in years and its last winning record for 25 years. He graduated with a degree in education in 1939.

Steve began his high school coaching career for a year in St. Maries and then three years at Lewiston. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a Russian interpreter and following the war, he briefly returned to Lewiston, and then coached the UI freshmen teams in football and basketball.

In 1950, Steve was named head coach at Idaho State. The Bengals dominated play in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and made the NCAA tournament four consecutive years (1953-56) when the tournament only featured 25 teams. He posted a 109-51 (.681) record at ISU and was named the conference's Coach of the Year three times. ISU's record during his final four seasons was 39-3.

In 1956, he became head coach at Oregon where he posted a 179-211 record in 15 seasons. His teams made the NCAA tournament twice, including the 1960 squad which advance to the Elite 8. His biggest win was in February of 1970 when the Ducks defeated three-time defending national champion UCLA 78-65 to snap the Bruins' 25-game win streak.

Following a pair of 17–9 seasons, Belko stepped down in April 1971 at age 55 and remained in Eugene as the assistant atheltic director at Oregon. After a year, he left Oregon to direct the Far West Classic basketball tournament in Portland. In 1975, he moved to Boise to work for the Big Sky Conference as an evaluator of basketball officials. He then became the commissioner of the conference in 1976 and served in that position until 1981 when he retired. He remained in Boise until his death at age 84 in 2000.

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