Cumberland Athletics to Honor Cliff Ellis on February 1, 2024

Former Cumberland Coach Cliff Ellis retires as the winningest active coach in college basketball spanning 49 seasons. (Credit: Coastal Carolina)
Former Cumberland Coach Cliff Ellis retires as the winningest active coach in college basketball spanning 49 seasons. (Credit: Coastal Carolina)

LEBANON, Tenn.–Cumberland Athletics is thrilled to announce a special ceremony to honor the illustrious career of former coach Cliff Ellis during the home basketball games on February 1st against Bethel University.

Coach Ellis, the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I basketball, recently announced his retirement as the head coach of the Coastal Carolina University men’s basketball team. With a remarkable career spanning 49 seasons, Ellis has left an indelible mark on the collegiate basketball landscape.

Ellis began his coaching journey right here at Cumberland and went on to coach at esteemed institutions such as Auburn, Clemson, and South Alabama, before finishing his career at Coastal Carolina. Throughout his career, Ellis amassed an impressive record of 909-576 (.612), with 831 of those victories coming at the NCAA Division I level. Ellis has guided his teams to an impressive 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including three Sweet Sixteen berths, marking his teams’ deep runs in the tournament.

He served as the head basketball coach and athletic director at Cumberland from 1973-1975. In his three years, he led Cumberland to a 78-12 (.867) record, including two championships in the Tennessee Junior College Athletic Association.

“We are immensely proud to recognize Coach Ellis for his extraordinary contributions to the world of basketball,” said Vice President of Athletics Ron Pavan. “His journey began with us, and it’s fitting that we celebrate his incredible achievements where it all started. His impact on the game, his players, and the communities he has served is truly unparalleled.”

Throughout his illustrious career, Ellis has been honored with multiple national awards, including being named the AP, CBS, and John Wooden National Coach of the Year in 1999. That same year, he also received the prestigious Henry Iba Award. Notably, Ellis is the only coach to have accumulated at least 170 wins at four different NCAA Division I programs. His coaching excellence has been recognized with various Coach of the Year awards from different conferences, such as the Sun Belt (1979), ACC (1987, 1990), SEC (1995, 1999), Big South (2010), and the esteemed John Wooden National Coach of the Year (1999).

Additionally, Ellis has secured eight conference regular-season titles, two conference tournament championships, and six Coach of the Year honors within his coaching journey. Moreover, his remarkable achievements have earned him a place in the Alabama, Clemson, Cumberland, and Mobile Sports Halls of Fame, solidifying the legacy he has left in basketball

As part of the ceremony on February 1st, Cumberland Athletics will pay tribute to Ellis’ legacy at halftime of the men’s game slated to start at 7:30 p.m. Ellis will also join the Cumberland Sports Network at halftime of the women’s game joining Jon Boyce and Ron Pavan for a special interview. The following day, Ellis will be the guest star with Coleman Walker on Coleman and Company on WANT FM 98.9 at 7:30 a.m.

Fans, alumni, and members of the community are encouraged to join in this momentous occasion to celebrate a coaching legend.

Source: Cumberland Sports
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