Miami University head men's basketball coach Charlie Coles spent 16 seasons at the helm of the men’s basketball program at Miami and served 22 seasons as a head coach, all in the Mid-American Conference. He finished his career as Miami’s all-time wins leader and the MAC career win leader for conference games. In 2010-11, Coles was presented with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Guardian of the Game Pillar Award for Education presented by the Hartford. Coles, the 22nd head coach in Miami history, retired from coaching on March 5, 2012, following the RedHawks’ final game.
During Coles' head coaching tenure, the RedHawks made seven postseason appearances--NCAA 1997, 1999, 2007; NIT 2005, 2006; CBI 2008, 2011--and Coles has mentored 20 players who have garnered 32 All-MAC awards, including 10 first-team honorees. Over the past nine seasons, Miami has had eight players--Juby Johnson, Chet Mason, Danny Horace, William Hatcher, Tim Pollitz, Michael Bramos, Kenny Hayes and Julian Mavunga--capture a combined 10 First-Team All-MAC accolades and is the only MAC men's basketball program to have at least one first-team honoree each of the last nine years.
Additionally, Miami had two MAC Players of the Year under Coles--Bramos in 2009 and a unanimous selection in Wally Szczerbiak in 1999--while Devin Davis captured MAC Tournament MVP honors in 1997 and Tim Pollitz was the 2007 MAC Tournament MVP.
Coles produced a 263-224 record over 16 years as the RedHawks' mentor and became Miami's all-time leader in coaching wins with a 67-60 triumph at Bowling Green on Jan. 20, 2009. He also guided Miami to three MAC regular-season crowns (1997, 1999, 2005), while making appearances in the championship game of the MAC Tournament his first five years. The RedHawks won the league's tourney title in 1997 and 2007.
After playing one of the nation's toughest non-conference schedules--which included four of the top six teams in the country at one point--and posting its most MAC wins since 2006, the RedHawks returned to postseason play in 2011 with an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational, and Coles was named the NABC District 14 Coach of the Year. In 2009, Miami was in the regular-season conference title hunt until the very last game, coming up just short in an overtime loss at Buffalo on March 8. The RedHawks earned a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament. With a berth in the inaugural CBI in 2008, Miami made its fourth consecutive postseason appearance.
Coles and the 2006-07 RedHawks provided Miami with a thrilling season, which was capped by a dramatic Mid-American Conference Tournament run. Off a last-second Doug Penno 3-pointer, the RedHawks seized the program's fourth MAC Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 17th time. Pollitz was named MVP of the tournament, while Bramos earned all-tournament team accolades.
After guiding the RedHawks to the program's 21st Mid-American Conference championship and a program-record 13 home wins in 2004-05, Coles was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year--his second career MAC Coach of the Year Award--bringing the honor back to Miami for the first time since 1995.
Miami earned a berth in the 2005 Postseason National Invitation Tournament and earned a repeat bid in 2006. Coles and the RedHawks finished the 2005-06 MAC season with a 14-4 league mark--the best MAC record by a Miami team since 1998-99--which tied for the second-best record among all 12 league programs.
Coles directed his first Miami squad to a 21-9 record and the 1997 NCAA Tournament. He became just the second coach in Miami history to lead his team to the MAC title, 20 or more wins and the NCAA Tournament in his first season (Hedric is the other). The 21 victories were the most in school history by a first-year coach.
Two seasons later, Coles directed Miami through one of its most magical seasons, which culminated in an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. Along the way, Miami won its 20th Mid-American Conference regular-season championship en route to a school-record-tying 24 season victories (24-8). Miami also earned its highest national ranking in 20 years, finishing the season with the No. 20 spot in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll. The RedHawks' NCAA wins over Washington and Utah catapulted Miami onto sports pages and publications across the country, including the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Coles was in his second stint as a collegiate head coach, having served at Central Michigan from 1986-1991. He compiled a 92-84 mark in his six seasons with the Chippewas, including a 22-8 mark in the 1986-87 campaign. Coles was named MAC Coach of the Year that season after leading CMU to the MAC regular-season and tournament championships and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. That squad was led by Dan Majerle, a three-time all-MAC selection and three-time NBA All-Star. Coles led Central Michigan to a 19-13 record and a second-place MAC finish in the 1987-88 season.
Under Coles, Miami recorded five straight MAC Championship game appearances (1997-2001), despite respective No. 9 and No. 8 seedings in 2000 and 2001. Coles was the first coach in the history of the MAC Tournament to lead his school to the championship game five consecutive years. He also owns a 25-17 record in MAC Tournament play, posting three times as many wins as any active MAC coach. In 22 years as a head coach at a MAC school, Coles' squads never missed a conference tournament and at least advanced to the quarterfinals all but one time since the league expanded to the all-inclusive tournament format in 1999-00, earning first-round byes eight of his last 10 seasons.
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In Coles' two years as an assistant prior to assuming the head coaching post, Miami posted a 44-15 record, won a MAC regular-season title (1995) and advanced to two postseason tournaments (NCAA in 1995, NIT in 1996).
A native of Yellow Springs, Ohio, Coles was the leading high school scorer in the state as a senior at Bryan High School, averaging 42.1 points per game, which is thought to be the second-highest single-season average in Ohio boys' basketball history. He scored 40 points or more 15 times his senior year, including a school-record 55 points against Shawnee. His lowest output of the season was a 23-point performance. In fall 2000, Yellow Springs retired his jersey.
Coles went on to earn three letters at Miami under coach Dick Shrider from 1963-65. He earned Second-Team All-MAC honors as a junior and senior and was a member of Miami's MAC co-championship team in 1964-65. Coles averaged double figures in scoring all three seasons, including an 18.5 ppg average as a junior. He led Miami with a .503 field goal percentage that season (167-of-332).
Coles, who was inducted into Miami's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990, is one of Miami’s 1,000-point scorers with 1,096 career points. In October 2008, he was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame, and in May 2011 he was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.
He and his wife, Delores, have a son, Chris (wife Robin), who is an assistant men's basketball coach at Saginaw Valley State, and a daughter, Mary Bennett (husband Craig). They have four grandchildren, Tyson, Taya and C.J. Coles, and Jazz Bennett.