STORRS, Conn. (Sept. 13, 2012) — Jim Calhoun, who took over a regional program at the University of Connecticut 26 years ago and built it into a three-time NCAA champion and a perennial national power, has announced his retirement as the UConn men’s basketball coach.
“I always said that I would know when it was time, whenever that might be,” said Calhoun, who made the official announcement Thursday afternoon at a news conference at Gampel Pavilion on UConn’s Storrs campus. “The hip injury really didn’t enter into the decision, except that it gave me more time to think about it and the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this was the right time to move on to the next phase of my life.”
Under a transition agreement that runs through next spring, Calhoun, 70, will continue his association with the university as a Special Assistant to Athletic Director Warde
Manuel, providing services to the university in support of men’s basketball, the Division of Athletics, the UConn Health Center, and the university at large.
“The agreement runs until March 21, 2013,” Calhoun said. “Then we’ll look at everything and go from there.”
Upon his full retirement from the university, Calhoun will become Head Coach Emeritus.
“Jim has given 26 years of 100 percent effort into making UConn, and UConn basketball, and so many student-athletes into the best they could be,” Manuel said. “I am proud to have worked with him, if only for a brief period of time, and I look forward to his association with us for years to come.”
Manuel said that although his own tenure at UConn hasn’t been very long, he has quickly learned how much Calhoun means to the university community.
“Jim is a pillar of the Division of Athletics and this university,” Manuel said. “I know from experience that it is never easy when a Hall of Fame coach and a person who has built a program to greatness retires.
“We will miss him, but I wish him nothing but the best in his new role without a whistle.”
One of the best-known college coaches in the country, Calhoun leaves behind a legacy as a program-builder that is virtually unequaled in the history of college athletics.
In May 1986, following four consecutive losing seasons, UConn hired Calhoun, who had won 248 games and made five NCAA Tournament appearances in 14 years at mid-major Northeastern. After a nine-win campaign in his first year with the Huskies, Calhoun has put together 25-straight winning seasons and made UConn one of the nation’s elite college basketball programs.
His phenomenal success story at UConn includes three NCAA championships (1999, 2004, 2011), one of just five coaches in history with three or more titles. Under Calhoun, the Huskies have also made four appearances in the Final Four (2009), nine trips to the Elite Eight and captured 13 berths in the Sweet 16 among 18 trips to the NCAA Tournament. He has also taken UConn to the NIT six times, winning the NIT championship in 1988, in just his second season at the helm.
In the BIG EAST Conference, Calhoun took the UConn program from mediocrity to dominance. The Huskies have won a record seven BIG EAST Tournament championships and 10 regular-season league titles. UConn is the only league team to ever sweep the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament crowns in back-to-back seasons (1997-98, 1998-99).
“Am I going to miss coaching basketball? Of course,” Calhoun said. “But I’m making sure I get my fix by watching the workouts. I have no doubt that Kevin (new Head Coach Ollie) and the staff will do a great job.”
Calhoun’s accomplishments brought him basketball’s ultimate honor when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. The following year, he was named as a member of the Founding Class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
His numerous awards include the prestigious John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” Award in 2005, and he was the first BIG EAST coach to win the conference’s Coach of the Year award four times (1989-90, ‘93-‘94,’ 95-‘96, and ‘97-‘98).
Calhoun’s final record in 40 years as a head coach stands at 873-380, which ranks sixth on the all-time wins list, while his 1,253 games coached is third all-time. He is 625-243 at UConn, by far the school’s winningest coach. Calhoun is 311-183 in BIG EAST competition, second in all-time wins, and his 35-19 record in the BIG EAST tourney also ranks second all-time.
Nationally, the Huskies’ coach has eight 30-win seasons, third all-time, and he ranks sixth all-time with 25 20-win seasons. Calhoun is fourth all-time with 49 NCAA Tournament wins (49-18). His overall national postseason record is 62-20 with four championships (3 NCAA, 1 NIT).
Calhoun’s greatest legacy, however, might well be the UConn players and coaches he has developed. He has had 27 players drafted by the NBA, including 18 first-round picks, and 13 of those have been lottery picks. Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Caron Butler, and Cliff Robinson have been All-Star selections, while Allen, Hamilton, Scott Burrell, and Travis Knight own NBA championship rings.
Under Calhoun, UConn has had seven players named BIG EAST Player of the Year, six players named Most Outstanding Player of the BIG EAST Championship, seven players named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, five named BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. He has coached 20 BIG EAST first team all-stars, 20 second-team all-stars, 20 third team all-stars and three honorable mentions. Center Emeka Okafor was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and was named the 2004 CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year.
Calhoun’s coaching tree currently includes five Division I head coaches: Howie Dickenman (Central Conn.), Mike Jarvis (Florida Atlantic), Tom Moore (Quinnipiac), Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook), and Ted Woodward (Maine). Former assistant Dave Leitao, and current UConn assistants Glen Miller and Karl Hobbs have also been successful head coaches at the Division I level.
“Coaching at UConn has just been phenomenal, there’s no other way to describe it,” Calhoun said. “I will always be grateful to the University of Connecticut. When I look back and see what we were able to accomplish here, I am extremely proud.”
Born May 10, 1942, in Braintree, Mass., Calhoun is a graduate of Braintree High School and American International College in Springfield (1968). He began his coaching career at Old Lyme (Conn.) High School and continued at Westport (Mass.) High and Dedham (Mass.) High before becoming the head coach at Northeastern University in 1972.
After 14 years at Northeastern, he accepted the job at UConn in 1986.
Calhoun and his wife Pat were married in 1966 and live in Pomfret, Conn. They have two sons, James and Jeffrey. James and his wife Jennifer live in Massachusetts with daughters Emily (born 3/5/99) and Katie (born 12/29/00) and son Sam (born 6/8/03). Jeffrey and his wife Amy live in Connecticut with daughters Avery (born 1/26/02), Reese (born 4/7/03), and Peyton (born 3/26/05).