Courtesy of Miami Sports Information
OXFORD, Ohio—Charlie Coles, Miami University men’s basketball’s all-time leader in wins and the Mid-American Conference record holder for career conference wins, passed away the morning of Friday, June 7, 2013, at the age of 71.
Coles is survived by his wife, Delores, along with his son Chris (wife Robin), daughter Mary Bennett (husband Craig) and four grandchildren: Tyson, Taya and C.J. Coles and Jazz Bennett.
A cherished member of the basketball community, Coles will always be remembered for his witty press conferences and sideline banter in addition to the legacy of his playing and coaching career.
Coles finished his career with a career record of 355-308, posting a 263-224 mark at Miami. With all 22 of his seasons as a head coach coming in the Mid-American Conference--including six at Central Michigan--he amassed a career record of 218-156 in MAC play. Coles earned more wins than any other coach in Miami history, more MAC wins than any other coach in conference history and tied for second on the MAC's career wins list.
Beyond the numbers, under Coles Miami players excelled both on and off the court.
While several players went on to professional careers, numerous others went on to successful careers in their respective fields. During his time at Miami, his squads' Academic Progress Rates traditionally exceeded the national averages and often led the Mid-American Conference. In 2001, Miami boasted the Anson Mount Scholar-Athlete of the Year in Mike Ensminger.
During Coles' head coaching tenure, the RedHawks made seven postseason appearances--NCAA 1997, 1999, 2007; NIT 2005, 2006; CBI 2008, 2011--and Coles mentored 20 players who garnered 31 All-MAC awards, including 11 first-team honorees. Over his last eight seasons, Miami had eight players capture a combined nine First-Team All-MAC accolades and was the only MAC men's basketball program to have at least one first-team honoree each of those last eight years.
Additionally, Miami had two MAC Players of the Year under Coles who both earned All-America honors in Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Bramos, while touting two players who captured MAC Tournament MVP accolades.
Coles captured MAC Coach of the Year honors twice, earning the award in 1987 while guiding the Chippewas and again in 2005 leading the RedHawks. He also was named the District 14 Coach of the Year in 2010-11.
Coles directed his first Miami squad to a 21-9 record and the 1997 NCAA Tournament. He became just the second coach in Miami history to lead his team to the MAC title, 20 or more wins and the NCAA Tournament in his first season. The 21 victories were the most in school history by a first-year coach.
Two seasons later, Coles directed Miami through one of its most magical seasons, which culminated in a NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. Along the way, Miami won its 20th Mid-American Conference regular-season championship en route to a school-record-tying 24 season victories (24-8). Miami also earned its highest national ranking in 20 years, finishing the season with the No. 20 spot in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll. The RedHawks' NCAA wins over Washington and Utah catapulted Miami onto sports pages and publications across the country, including the cover of Sports Illustrated.
With an anytime, anyplace mentality, Coles' squads annually challenged some of Division I's perennial giants and often boasted a strength of schedule that was among national leaders.
In addition to his coaching prowess, Coles ('65) was a standout player on the basketball floor for the Red & White from 1962-65. A two-time Second-Team All-MAC selection, Coles averaged double figures in scoring all three seasons, including an 18.5 ppg average and a team-leading 50.3 field goal percentage as a junior. He was a member of Miami's co-MAC Championship team as a senior and is one of the program's 1,000-point career scorers, ranking 29th with 1,096 career points.
One of the greatest tributes to his legacy was earning the NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award for Education, presented by The Hartford at the 2011 Final Four.
A national awareness and education program led by the NABC, the goal of the Guardians of the Game program is to focus attention on the positive aspects of basketball and the role coaches play in the lives of student-athletes, in addition to the contributions coaches make to their communities. The Guardians Awards recognize NABC coaches who exemplify one of the four Guardians of the Game core values: Advocacy, Leadership, Service and Education.
Coles, a long time educator and student of the game, was nominated and selected for the Education pillar which is presented to NABC coaches who are committed to continuing education and the development of their profession in order to be better mentors, teachers, and leaders. The Education award goes to a coach dedicated to their own professional development, as well as that of their colleagues. The Education statuette rewards the coach that best mentors, teaches, and perpetuates the doctrine of the game.
Thought to be the only Division I coach who continued to teach a class during his tenure, Coles annually conducted a basketball coaching theory class at Miami University. In addition to continually trying to better himself through attending other collegiate practices and watching hours of film in the off-season to study what other successful programs were doing on the court, Coles further embodied the Education pillar with his teaching both on and off the court.
Coles was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame (2011), the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame (2008) and the Miami University Hall of Fame (1990), and had his jersey retired by Yellow Springs High School in 2000.
After 16 seasons at the helm of the Miami University men's basketball program, 22 seasons as a collegiate head coach (all in the Mid-American Conference) and nearly half a century as a basketball coach at various levels, Coles announced his retirement on March 5, 2012.
Thoughts and Remembrances
“The Miami Family is saddened today by the passing of Coach Coles. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time. His legacy at Miami and the positive impact he made on so many lives will always be remembered.”
-- Miami Athletic Director David Sayler
“When you think of Miami basketball, in many ways you think of Coach Coles. He devoted a lot of his time here as a student, coach and a person in the community. We’re shocked and devastated, and our prayers certainly go out to Mrs. Coles and the rest of the Coles family. When you think of Coach Coles, you think a lot about his press conferences, you think about all the laughs he provided to everyone involved in basketball. He’s left a wonderful impression among the coaching community just because of the person he was. You never forget people like Coach Coles; his legacy will live on in Miami forever.”
-- Miami head men’s basketball coach John Cooper
“This is a sad day for the Mid-American Conference. Coach Coles’ legacy transcends athletics. He was an exceptional person that positively impacted the lives of many people both on and off the court. This loss will be felt not only at Miami, Central Michigan and the MAC -- but across the entire college basketball landscape. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Coles family."
-- MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher
“Charlie Coles was one of the greatest men I have ever met. His passion and energy for life, his family, coaching and kids was contagious for all who ever came in contact with him. I owe so much of my life to him and will miss him dearly.”
-- Ohio State head men’s basketball coach Thad Matta
“I have so many fond memories of Charlie both as a friend and a coach, and many of them start with recruiting drives early in the morning with a cup of coffee on winding roads in southern Ohio. Charlie made you laugh and made you think. He was comfortable and held court with one person or many. But I also want people to remember he was a great coach….a really, really, great coach. Much of what we try to instill today is what Charlie was teaching us two decades ago.”
-- Arizona State head men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek