Earl Monroe and Clarence Gaines

Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Coach “Big House” Gaines.
Photo courtesy of the WSSU Archives and NARA

Clarence “Big House” Gaines, who spent 47 seasons coaching men’s basketball at Winston-Salem State University, passed away yesterday. He was 81.

When he retired, he had won more men’s basketball games than anyone except Adolph Rupp. A few coaches passed him since then, including Dean Smith, but he was at WSSU long enough for 828 wins and entrance to the Hall of Fame.

I grew up in Winston, and Coach Gaines was the second great coach I had ever heard of. (My brother went to UNC, so by the time I knew there was such a thing as college basketball I knew about Dean Smith.) I was always amazed at the fact that, in a city where the school system had desegregated only a decade before, everyone talked about Coach Gaines as a legend. For a kid whose favorite shirt was a WSSU Rams shirt, that was pretty cool. 🙂

Addition: Here’s a better memory of Coach Gaines.