CLEVELAND-Former Miami University men’s basketball head coach and 1965 alumnus Charlie Coles was one of seven individuals inducted into the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 13 during the MAC Honor’s Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.
Coles’ granddaughter, Jazz Bennett, spoke on behalf of the family on Tuesday evening, delivering a powerful acceptance speech for Coach Coles’ induction. (Video of Induction Speech) (Charlie Coles Induction Video)
Coles joined Judy Devine (Kent State, administration), Harry Houska (Ohio, wrestling), Jim Lessig (MAC/Bowling Green, administration), Caroline Mullen-Kearney (Western Michigan, women’s track and cross country), Sally Northcroft (Ball State, field hockey) and Joe Novak (Northern Illinois, football)--also a Miami University alumnus (’67) and inductee into Miami’s Hall of Fame and Cradle of Coaches Association--as part of the MAC Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
Coles represented Miami University with success throughout his entire career which began as a student-athlete and continued as an assistant coach and head men’s basketball coach. Coles guided his teams to more Mid-American Conference wins than any other men’s basketball coach in MAC history amassing a league record of 218-155 (.584) in 22 seasons as a head coach.
Coles earned three letters at Miami from 1963-65, was named Second-Team All-MAC as a junior and senior and was a member of Miami’s MAC Co-Championship team in 1964-65. He averaged double figures in scoring all three seasons, including an 18.5 points per game average as a junior. Coles ranks 30th on Miami’s career-scoring list with 1,096 career points and his 15.4 ppg career average ties for 10th all-time at Miami.
Coles began his head coaching career at Central Michigan for six seasons (1985-91). Coles spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Miami (1994-96) before being named head coach in 1996. He went on to serve 16 seasons as head coach (1996-2012) and is Miami’s all-time leader in wins with a 263-224 career record and finished his career tied for second among MAC coaches for career coaching wins with a record of 355-308. As a MAC head coach, his teams made eight postseason appearances (Central Michigan: NCAA 1987 – Miami: NCAA 1997, 1999, 2007; NIT 2005, 2006; CBI 2008, 2011).
Coles was a legend in Oxford both for his success on the court and for his loveable and engaging personality off the court. Coles directed his first Miami squad to a 21-9 record and the 1997 NCAA Tournament and 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.
Coles led Miami to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1999 with wins over Washington and Utah, which marked the first time a Miami team won two games in the NCAA Tournament. Also in 1999, Miami won its 20th MAC regular-season championship en route to a school-record-tying 24 victories (24-8) and also earned its highest national ranking in 20 years, finishing the season with the No. 20 spot in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll.
Coles mentored two MAC Players of the Year (Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Bramos), three MAC Tournament MVPs (Dan Majerle, Devin Davis, Tim Pollitz) and 20 Miami student-athletes garnered 32 All-MAC awards, including 10 first-team honorees.
In his last nine seasons at Miami, the RedHawks had eight student-athletes capture a combined 10 First-Team All-MAC accolades and Miami was the only MAC men's basketball program during that stretch to have at least one first-team honoree each of the nine seasons. Coles was twice named MAC Coach of the Year (1987; 2005) and was the 2011 NABC District 14 Coach of the Year.
During his tenure as head coach, Coles was thought to be the only Division I head coach to teach a class – appropriately a basketball coaching theory class at Miami University. He was presented with a Guardian of the Game Pillar Award for Education presented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) in 2011.
Coles was involved with the development of the Coaches vs. Cancer of Southwest Ohio initiative and assisted with the United Way campaigns in Oxford. He was actively involved with his church and even found time to coach his granddaughter’s youth flag football and basketball teams. He was inducted into the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990, the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Coles passed away June 7, 2013. He is survived by his wife, Delores, and two children, son Chris and daughter Mary.
“It is only appropriate for our Conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former student-athletes, coaches and administrators, specifically these seven individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American Conference,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC Commissioner. “We are honored to welcome them to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame.”
“The Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame is a testament to the achievements of those that have competed and served in this great Conference,” added Steinbrecher.
The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in 1987. The charter class was inducted in 1988 and subsequent classes were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. After six induction classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was reinstated in May of 2012. This year’s class brings the number of MAC Hall of Fame inductees to 72 individuals from nine classes.