Only Lefty Driesell Won 100 Games at Four Schools

While at Maryland, coach held the first Midnight Madness
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2024 1:20 PM CST
Hall of Famer Lefty Driesell Invented Midnight Madness
Lefty Driesell, right, and sportscaster Dick Vitale go one-on-one during a break in team practice for the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum in March 1988.   (AP Photo/Scott Stewart, File)

Lefty Driesell, a Hall of Fame college basketball coach whose accomplishments were clouded by his temper and the death of star Len Bias, died Saturday. He died at his home in Virginia Beach at age 92, the Washington Post reports. Driesell won 786 games over 41 seasons and is the only men's basketball coach to win 100 games each at four Division I universities. At his retirement in 2003, Bob Knight, Adolph Rupp, and Dean Smith were the only coaches with more Division I victories. Driesell collected 348 of them at Maryland. "He had a big personality, was an excellent recruiter and he helped put Maryland basketball on the map," said Brad Davis, per NBC News, who played for him.

Charles Grice Driesell, who played for Duke, began coaching at the high school level, per ESPN, before being hired at 900-student Davidson. He improved programs at every stop and posted a losing record only three times. Driesell was "the greatest program builder in the history of college basketball," said broadcaster Billy Packer. He could talk big, announcing when he was hired that Maryland, which had gone 8-18 the year before, "has the potential to be the UCLA of the East." The Terrapins became a power in the brutally competitive ACC, winning two conference titles and reaching the NCAA tournament eight times. But they did not reach the Final Four in his 17 seasons.

In 1986, Maryland star Len Bias died of apparent cocaine overdose, two days after being chosen second overall in the NBA draft. Driesell was accused of attempting a coverup but was cleared by a grand jury. The fallout included the revelation that five of the team's 12 players had flunked out of school. "I've got a wonderful program," Driesell insisted. "It's a beautiful program. It's a clean program." But he was removed from coaching the Terrapins, then left for James Madison. He retired while at Georgia State.

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In 2018, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at age 86. "Lefty should have been in years ago," Mike Krzyzewski, also a Hall of Fame coach, said at the time. "His contributions to the game go way beyond wins and losses." Driesell's legacy includes Midnight Madness, the ritual that's now widespread of opening fall practices at the earliest moment permitted. At his first one, in 1971, Driesell had his team run a mile at the stadium while illuminated by car headlights. "I enjoy that people are still doing it," he said in 2008. "But I should have got a patent on it." (More obituary stories.)

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