Longtime Miami (Ohio) and Central Michigan basketball coach Charlie Coles, the school’s all-time leader in victories, died today at his Oxford home, the school said. He was 71.
No cause of death was reported immediately, but Coles had a history of heart issues.
The two-time Mid-American Conference coach of the year had 263 victories at Miami. He also was the Mid-American Conference’s all-time leader. He had a career record of 355-308 over 22 seasons at Miami and CMU, where he coached in 1985-91.
Coles retired in March 2012, following the RedHawks’ first-round loss at Toledo in the first round of the conference tournament. He coached Miami for 16 seasons, with a record of 263-224.
Coles’ Miami team made a longshot run into the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 in 1999, led by future NBA forward Wally Szczerbiak. Miami lost to Kentucky.
Coles had heart problems for years, missing the end of the 2008-09 season because of health problems. He had four operations in the next few months, one to reshape his heart. He recovered and returned to coaching, getting a contract extension.
The school hired John Cooper from Tennessee State to succeed him last year.
Coles often referred to Saginaw as his hometown because of his years — 1972-82 — coaching at Saginaw High, which he built into a powerhouse.
He led the Trojans to Class A state championship game appearances in 1973 and ’76.
His son, Chris, now the head coach at Olivet College, hit the game-winning shot from beyond halfcourt to give Saginaw Buena Vista the 1986 Class B state championship.
He is survived by Chris, his wife, Delores, daughter, Mary Bennett, and four grandchildren, the school said.
Here’s some classic Coles: