SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The University of Maryland’s legendary head coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell was named a finalist for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as announced on February 17. Driesell was one of three coaches to be considered for election, with the enshrinees being formally announced at the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio on March 31. This is Driesell’s fourth selection as a finalist.
Heralded for his infectious coaching and recruiting ability, the legendary Driesell transcended the basketball community during his 41 seasons as a head coach, including 17 seasons at the University of Maryland from 1969 to 1986.
Driesell amassed 786 wins, which ranked fifth among Division I head coaches when he retired in 2003. In 2007 Driesell was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He is the only coach in Division I history to win at least 100 games at four different schools.
Driesell rapidly built Maryland into a perennial contender in Atlantic Coast Conference, recruiting such players as Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas, Albert King, Buck Williams and Len Bias.
Under the guidance of Driesell, Maryland won the National Invitational Tournament in 1972 - its second-ever ACC Tournament Championship in 1984. He finished his career at Maryland with a 348-159 record.
He is also credited with generating the idea for the nation’s first “Midnight Madness,” a tradition that has largely been inherited by almost every college basketball team in the country and still continues to this day. As the legend goes, Driesell held a one-mile run at the track in front of 1,000 fans around then-Byrd Stadium at 12:03 a.m. on October 15, 1971, the first possible day to begin practice.
In 1960 Driesell joined the collegiate ranks when he accepted the head coaching position at Davidson College. Driesell posted a 9-14 record in his first season at Davidson. He would have only one more losing season in the 40 years that followed. In nine seasons at Davidson, Driesell led the Wildcats to three Southern Conference Championships and posted an impressive 176-65 record.
Following a two-year hiatus from coaching after his time at Maryland, Driesell returned to the sidelines in 1988, when he was named the head coach at James Madison University. He led the Dukes to five regular season championships in the Colonial Athletics Association and a berth in the 1994 NCAA Tournament.
Six years later he became one of just three coaches to take four different programs to the NCAA Tournament when he coached Georgia State to the Big Dance following the 2000-01 season. The Panthers, who finished 29-5, upset Wisconsin in the first round of the tournament before falling to Maryland.
Driesell won 103 games in six seasons at Georgia State making him the only coach in Division I history to win at least 100 games at four different schools.
A bronze bas-relief of Driesell was unveiled at XFINITY Center on April 16, 2013. He is a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame.