Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Coach “Big House” Gaines.
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.