washingtonpost.com  > Metro > Obituaries

Clarence Gaines; Basketball Coaching Legend

Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page B05

Clarence "Big House" Gaines, 81, one of college basketball's winningest coaches at North Carolina's Winston-Salem State University, died of complications from a stroke April 18.

Mr. Gaines retired in 1993 after 47 seasons at NCAA Division II Winston-Salem State. His 828 victories rank him fifth on the career list in NCAA men's basketball, behind Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Bob Knight and Jim Phelan.

Clarence "Big House" Gaines among leaders in coaching wins. (Winston-Salem Journal via AP File Photo)

_____Obituary Submissions_____
Visit the obituary information page to learn about news obituary and death notice submissions.

Mr. Gaines had 18 seasons in which his teams won at least 20 games, and he won 11 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles at Winston-Salem. In 1967, he led the Rams, featuring future NBA star Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, to a 31-1 record and an NCAA Division II championship. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982.

Mr. Gaines, a native of Paducah, Ky., was born and raised in segregation. He was a 6-foot-5, 265-pound high school prospect in 1941 with few college possibilities. With the determination of his family and the black community, he received scholarship offers from three predominantly black colleges. He went to Morgan State University in Baltimore, where a school employee inspired his nickname, telling him, "The only thing I've seen as big as you is a house."

He was an All-America football player at Morgan State, and also was on the basketball and track teams. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry before going to Winston-Salem in 1946 as coach of all the college's sports teams -- basketball, football, track, tennis and boxing.

In 1949, he concentrated on basketball, and became the school's athletic director. Mr. Gaines received a master's degree in education from Columbia University in 1950.

His autobiography, published in the fall, was titled, "They Call Me Big House."

Survivors include his wife of 55 years; and two children.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company