Ball State coach Walton to retire at end of 2021 season

Photo courtesy of Ball State athletics.

The longest tenured coach in the MIVA will be leaving the sidelines.

Ball State announced Monday that head coach Joel Walton after 23 seasons will retire following the 2021 season.

Walton during his tenure at Ball State compiled 403 career wins — the fourth-most wins among active NCAA men’s volleyball head coaches. He also is one of 13 coaches to NCAA men’s volleyball history to have more than 400 career wins.

“I have decided to pursue a new path following this coming season,” Walton said in a statement. “This is a move that my wife and I have contemplated for some time. For years, my family has supported me as a coach but now is the time to step back to enjoy them and become Ball State’s biggest fan.”


Ball State under Walton finished with a winning record in all but two seasons, including having at least 20 wins nine times. The two-time MIVA Coach of the Year also helped guide the Cardinals to the 2002 MIVA championship.

Walton took over the team for the 1999 season following the retirement of Ball State’s inaugural coach and Hall of Famer Don Shondell.

Before being named the head coach, he was an assistant coach on Shondell’s staff for eight seasons. Walton also played for Shondell and Ball State in the 1980s and helped the Cardinals twice reach the NCAA Tournament.

“Ball State athletics is grateful for coach Walton’s contributions to the University as a student-athlete and coach,” Ball State athletics director Beth Goetz said in a statement. “The men’s volleyball program has a storied history. Joel’s more than 400 wins over 22 seasons as head coach, his efforts as an assistant and his achievements as a player write a significant chapter of that history.”

Walton’s successor will be the fourth head coach for the Cardinals since Shondell started the program in 1960.

Ball State enters Walton’s final season after ending the shortened 2020 season third in the MIVA and receiving votes in the national coaches poll. Along with two All-MIVA starters returning, Ball State in the offseason added transfer All-American opposite Angelos Mandilaris.