Friday afternoon the Miami University athletic department announced that former head coach Charlie Coles, the school’s all-time leader in victories, has passed away at the age of 71.
During his 16 seasons at Miami Coles won 266 games and led his alma mater to seven postseason appearances, with three being NCAA tournament berths. Coles’ best team at Miami was the 1998-99 edition (24-8; 15-3 MAC), led by Wally Szczerbiak, which reached the Sweet 16 before being eliminated by Kentucky.
Before his lengthy run at Miami Coles spent six seasons at Central Michigan (1985-91), posting a record of 92-84 and leading the Chippewas to an NCAA tournament appearance in 1987.
Coles’ best player during his time at CMU was Dan Majerle, who was selected in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft and is now the head coach at Grand Canyon University.
Health issues ultimately led to Coles making the decision to retire at the end of the 2011-12 season.
“I made this decision before the year started,” Coles said. “Not the final decision, but the overall feeling. The final decision came when I got sick two weeks ago.
“I had a talk with my doctor,” he continued. “He said, ‘You’re going to be OK for three or four years, but sooner or later, you’re a guy that’s had two bypasses and extreme heart problems. So why don’t you just start considering not doing it now?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ It was a tough thing for me to tell my family, but I’ve got to go on.”
Before taking over at Miami Coles was an assistant on Herb Sendek’s staff at the school, and the current Arizona State head coach offered his thoughts on Coles’ passing Friday afternoon.
“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,” says Coach Sendek. “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.
“We lost a great coach and a real great person to be around. He loved the game and poured his life into it. For that reason, all of us who were around Coach Coles are better coaches. “
Coles was a good coach who was also highly entertaining, and the below video of Coles’ meeting the press following a loss at Kentucky is a prime example of this.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.