Legendary coach Lefty Driesell dies at 92

By Thomson Reuters Feb 17, 2024 | 10:12 AM

Charles “Lefty” Driesell, a Hall of Fame coach who turned Maryland basketball from an afterthought to a contender, died Saturday at age 92 in Virginia Beach, Va.

His daughter, Pam Driesell, told The Baltimore Sun that he had been in declining health since the death of his wife, Joyce, in 2021.

Maryland (1969-86) was the second stop on Driesell’s 41-year coaching journey, which began at Davidson (1960-69) and continued at James Madison (1988-97) and Georgia State (1997-2003). Driesell is one of only two coaches in NCAA history to win at least 100 games at four different schools and compiled a 786-394 record.

Driesell also received the NCAA Award of Valor in 1973 for rescuing people from a house fire in Delaware.

The schools where he worked and the players he coached remembered him Saturday morning.

“Lefty Driesell was a transcendent figure in college basketball and the man who put Maryland basketball on the map,” said Damon Evans, Maryland’s athletic director.

“A Hall of Famer, Lefty was an innovator, a man who was ahead of his time from his coaching on the court to his marketing off the court. From starting Midnight Madness to nationally televised games with sold-out Cole Field House crowds, Lefty did it all. He led Maryland to the NIT Championship, eight NCAA Tournaments, multiple ACC Championships and a consistent Top-10 ranking during his tenure, producing tons of NBA players. … His memory will be forever etched in Maryland basketball history.”

His 786 victories rank 15th all-time among NCAA Division I coaches.

“He was a legend both on and off the court and instrumental in my life,” said Tom McMillen, who played for Driesell with the Terrapins from 1971-74 and later served in Congress. “I am grateful that we shared some time together a couple weeks ago. We will miss him dearly.”

Driesell was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

It took the efforts of former players and others to secure Driesell’s spot in the Naismith Hall of Fame; they lobbied for years for his induction. According to The Sun, Driesell often wondered if the circumstances around the cocaine-related death of star Len Bias in 1986 — which forced him out at Maryland — led to his exclusion.

Born in Virginia on Christmas Day in 1931, he went on to play at Duke.

In addition to his daughter, Pam, Driesell is survived by daughters Patricia and Carolyn and his son, Chuck, the former men’s basketball coach at The Citadel.

–Field Level Media