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Legendary College Basketball Coach Lefty Driesell Dead at 92

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Charles Grice ‘Lefty’ Driesell, who has been called “the greatest program builder in the history of college basketball,” died in his home in Virginia Beach on Saturday, according to his grandson Ty Anderson. He was 92.

Driesell was hired to coach the men’s basketball team at the University of Maryland in 1969, a time when the Terrapins hadn’t made it to an NCAA tournament for 11 years. In his 17 seasons as their coach he secured 300 game wins, and titles in the Atlantic Coast Conference and National Invitation Tournament.

In 1974, Driesell saved 10 children from a burning building and was presented with the NCAA’s Award for Valor. “Don’t call me a hero,” he said, according to the Virginian-Pilot. That same year Driesell scouted Moses Malone for Maryland, who defected to the Utah Stars at the last minute, becoming the first player to enter the go pro straight from high school.

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Driesell’s coaching tenure was not without the occasional controversy. In 1983, Driesell allegedly pressured a student to drop a complaint alleging sexual misconduct against one of his players, Herman Veal. When the school’s women’s center expressed outrage, Driesell responded saying, “I don’t care about the women’s center. I’m a men’s center. In my mind, Herman Veal is the victim.”

In 1986, Driesell allegedly instructed one of the assistant coaches to clean up the scene after one of his players, Len Bias, was found dead from a cocaine overdose. A grand jury cleared Driesell of any wrongdoing. That year, 12 of his players failed out of school.

Driesell was brash and often temperamental, but was a force that could take a team from the pits to the top of the mountain. With coaching gigs at Davidson College, James Madison University and Georgia State, Driesell became the first and only coach with 100 wins at four colleges, and when he retired in 2003 he had 736 victories in Division I. In 2018 he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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