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Wed, 05.21.1924

Clarence Gaines, Basketball Coach, and Athletic Director born

Clarence Gaines

Clarence ("Big House") Gaines was born on this date in 1924. He was a Black college basketball coach and athletic director.

He was born in Paducah, Kentucky, where he attended Lincoln High School, graduating in 1941. He played basketball for three years; and was a one-time All-Conference and All-State athlete.  From there he attended Morgan State, in Baltimore, MD, graduating in 1945. He began coaching the following year at Winston-Salem University. College basketball may never find a more caring, sensitive and dedicated coach than Clarence "Big House" Gaines.

Statistically, Gaines retired in 1993 with 828 wins, making him the second most successful coach in NCAA history behind Adolph Rupp.  Over a record 47 years at Winston-Salem State University, this gentle giant created his own legendary status. What began as a temporary assignment became a lifelong vocation. With a remarkable 828-447 record, Gaines placed an imprint on college basketball that will remain forever.

At Winston-Salem, Gaines' teams won 20 or more games 18 times, capturing the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship 12 times. The teams he coached teams were up-tempo, fast-breaking units that relied heavily on speed and athleticism to overwhelm opponents. Gaines' 1967 squad was his best ever, led by Earl "The Pearl" Monroe. In 1967, the Rams compiled a 31-1 record, and became the first HBCU to win an NCAA College Division championship.

For his efforts, Gaines was named the NCAA College Division Coach-of-the-Year. He also is enshrined in several Halls of Fame, including the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, North Carolina Sports, Winston-Salem State University and the NAIA. In 1978 he was honored with the NABC/MIBA/NIT Award, and in 1989, he was elected president of the NABC. Gaines retired as coach of Div. II Winston-Salem after 1992-93 season with 828-447 record in 47 years; he ranks 4th on all-time NCAA list behind Dean Smith (879) Adolph Rupp (876), and Jim Phelan (830).  Clarence ("Big House") Gaines died on April 18, 2005.

To become a Coach


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