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Davidson Wildcats Mourn the Loss of Legendary Coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell

by | Feb 19, 2024


DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Davidson College community is mourning the loss of former head men’s basketball coach and icon, Charles “Lefty” Driesell, who passed away Saturday morning at the age of 92.

“Lefty Driesell was a force who propelled Davidson College to national prominence,” said VP & Director of Athletics Chris Clunie. “He helped create a golden era of Davidson College basketball, setting the standard for the heights this program could reach then, now and in the future. And he did so with unmatched integrity, charisma and passion.”

“Lefty Driesell had the remarkable gift and capacity to fully embrace each and every day of his life,” said Bob McKillop. “The culture of success and excellence that he created at Davidson College in the 1960s is one of the greatest stories in college basketball history. His legacy will forever be the foundation of Davidson College basketball.”

In nine seasons at Davidson (1960-69), Driesell guided the ‘Cats to a 176-65 record, five regular season titles, three Southern Conference Tournament crowns (1966, 1968 and 1969) and Elite Eight appearances in 1968 and 1969.

Voted Southern Conference Coach of the Year four times, Driesell’s Davidson teams were ranked nationally among the Top-10 four times, including as high as second in 1969.

In addition, several of his recruits – Fred Hetzel ’65 and Dick Snyder ’66 – were first-team All-Americans, and both enjoyed successful careers in the National Basketball Association.

The late Terry Holland held the “Lefty” Driesell jersey during the ceremony in early 2022.

“Some people in your life stand up and stand out,” commented Hetzel. “Lefty helped shape my life, and I will always admire his discipline and his intensity.”

Second on Davidson’s all-time wins list behind Bob McKillop, Driesell led the Wildcats to six straight 20-win seasons.

Following his tenure at Davidson, Driesell had successful coaching stints at Maryland (1969-86), James Madison (1988-96) and Georgia State (1997-2003), becoming the first in NCAA history to win more than 100 games at four different Division I schools.

In all, Driesell earned nine conference coach-of-the-year honors and led his teams to 21 postseason season appearances – 13 NCAA and 8 NIT.

His 786 victories still rank 15th all-time among all NCAA Division I coaches and 23rd overall at all levels of NCAA basketball. He is among 10 coaches all-time to have coached 40 seasons or more, along such notables as Adolph Rupp, Mike Krzyzewski, Phog Allen, Ed Diddle, Jim Boeheim, Bob Knight, Jim Calhoun, Bob Huggins and Henry Iba. 

Driesell was honored in 2018 with induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. That came after his induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. Driesell is also a member of the Davidson, Maryland, Southern Conference and Virginia Sports Halls of Fame.

In January of 2022, Davidson College and the Department of Athletics honored Lefty along with his first freshman recruit, Terry Holland ’64, with a jersey retirement ceremony.

Editor’s Note: this is a link to the News of Davidson photo & video album from the ceremony honoring Lefty and Terry Holland. 

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