The Missouri Southern Alumni Association, in cooperation with the Missouri Southern Foundation, has launched a fundraising campaign that will provide scholarships to Missouri Southern student-athletes, members of the Missouri Southern pep band, and honor the legacy of the most successful men’s basketball coach in the university’s history.

An 18-person committee made up of Missouri Southern alumni and supporters of the basketball program are working to raise $100,000 that will culminate in naming the floor of the basketball court at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center after men’s basketball coach Robert Corn.

Men's basketball coach Robert Corn recently earned his 400th career win against Lindenwood.

Men’s basketball coach Robert Corn recently earned his 400th career win against Lindenwood.

The money raised will fund scholarships for Missouri Southern student athletes, who – because of the time demands of their sport – need an additional fifth year to complete their degree. The money will also fund a scholarship for a member of the Missouri Southern pep band.

“As an alum, I feel it is a privilege to work with Mike Pound and other organizations at Southern in honoring such an outstanding individual,” said committee co-chair Keith Adams, class of 1949.

Blake Bard, class of 2002 and the executive director of development for the Freeman Foundation, played for Corn during the 1999-2002 seasons. He said the fund drive will not only provide scholarships for Missouri Southern students, but also honor a man who is more than just a basketball coach.

“There are people that come into your life and change it forever, and I feel like Coach Corn is that man to a lot of people, including me,” Bard said. “I can say that the lessons he taught me not only on the court but off the court helped shape the man I am today.

“I learned from him on a daily basis the game of basketball, but the example he set living his life has had a profound impact on me. When you have someone that believes in you and truly invests in making you better, it is something you never forget. He was more than my basketball coach, and the program was more than just a sport. I not only feel like I owe it to him to see his legacy perpetuated here at the university he loves, but I feel like it is a blessing that I am able to be involved.”

Corn is a 1978 graduate of Missouri Southern. A native of Benton, Ill., where he was twice a special mention prep all-state performer, he played basketball for two seasons at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), including one year under the late Gene Bartow, before transferring to Missouri Southern. As a senior, he was co-captain of the 1977-78 squad that went 27-9 to capture the Central States Intercollegiate Conference and NAIA District 16 crowns and advance to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Tournament.

Corn was honored for his athletic and academic efforts that year as he was named honorable mention All-CSIC and all-district, as well as Missouri Southern’s outstanding physical education major. 

Last week, he earned his 400th career win against Lindenwood.

“I am very humbled by this tremendous honor,” Corn said. “As a coach, to have something named in their honor is something Cindy, Rob, Scott and I take a great deal of pride in.  To have the donations received from this to go for scholarships for our student athletes and pep band so our students can continue with their college education makes it even more meaningful. The Corn family would like to thank the committee and our friends for making this possible. It is a great day to be a Lion.”

For information about making a tax-deductible gift to the scholarship fund, contact the Missouri Southern Alumni Association at 417-659-5466.