Legendary coaches are renowned for their achievements on the court as well as their commitment to their players and communities. In addition to designing innovative offenses and defenses, they help those around them achieve more than they thought possible. The following is a list of some of the most legendary coaches who also excelled as teachers, mentors and community leaders.
Winning over 600 games, making four Final Four appearances and collecting three national titles, Jim Calhoun turned the Connecticut Huskies into one of college basketball’s elite programs. In 2005, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Six years later at the age of 68, he became the oldest coach in Division I history to win a national title. Calhoun embodied the physical and mental toughness that he instilled in his players. Calhoun has been the Honorary Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and is actively involved with the Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Miracle Network.
The designer of the Four Corner Offense, Dean Smith was one of the greatest innovators in college basketball. After taking over in 1961 when North Carolina was on probation, Smith turned the Tar Heels into one of the most successful programs in the country. In 36 years, he amassed over 870 wins and 11 Final Four appearances as well as two national championships. Almost 97 percent of his athletes earned degrees. Smith advanced desegregation when he recruited Charlie Scott, the university’s first African-American scholarship player, and encouraged local businesses to engage in fair treatment.
Known for his often-abrasive style, Bobby Knight has 902 career victories. This makes him the second-winningest coach in Division 1 Men’s Basketball. Knight perfected and popularized the motion offense. Nicknamed the “General,” Knight transformed the Indiana Hoosiers into a perennial powerhouse achieving five Finals Fours and three national championships. This Hall of Fame coach also guided the U.S. team to a gold medal at the 1979 Pan America Games and the 1984 Olympics. Knight is also well known for his commitment to education. Close to 80 percent of his players graduated compared to the NCAA Division I average of 42 percent.
Mike Krzyzewski has become a modern legend whose nickname, “Coach K,” is well known around the world. This Hall of Fame coach has led the Duke Blue Devils to 12 Final Fours that have produced five National Championships in his more than three-decade tenure at the school. “Coach K” is the first Division I coach to achieve 1,000 career wins. He also coached Team USA to Olympic medals in 2004 and 2008. Krzyzewski’s charitable work inspires children from kindergarten through high school to embrace education, dream big and act with character and purpose to end the cycle of poverty.
Considered the greatest coach in the history of college basketball, John Wooden guided the UCLA Bruins for almost three decades. Under his tutelage, the Bruins won 10 national championships, including seven in a row. He is famous for his short inspirational messages to players, such as the Seven Point Creed and the Pyramid of Success, which were applicable on and off the court. Wooden was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961 and as an inaugural member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Three years later, The Sporting News named him the Greatest Coach of All Time.
In addition to winning on the court, these legendary coaches also showed a tireless commitment to their players and communities off the court. They emphasized education and personal philosophies that help guide people through life.
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