Gale Catlett

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Gale Catlett (born October 31, 1940) was a basketball player and longtime basketball coach for West Virginia University and coach at the University of Cincinnati.[1]

Playing career[edit]

Born in Hedgesville, West Virginia, Catlett played for West Virginia from 1958 to 1963. He played on the freshman team in 1958-59, but missed the 1959-60 season with a broken wrist.[2] During his three varsity seasons (1960-61 through 1962-63),[3] he helped the Mountaineers to two NCAA tournament berths. West Virginia went 23-4, 24-6 and 23-8 during Catlett's varsity seasons, winning the Southern Conference title every season.[4] The 6-foot-5 forward totaled 407 points and 275 rebounds on Coach George King's guard-oriented teams.[5]

Assistant coach[edit]

After he graduated in 1963, he began his coaching career. He started out with assistant coaching jobs at Richmond under head coach Lew Mills, Davidson under Lefty Driesell, Kansas under Ted Owens, and finally Kentucky under legendary coach Adolph Rupp.[6]

Head coach[edit]

In 1972, Catlett was named head coach of University of Cincinnati, succeeding Tay Baker, whose team had gone 17-9 the year before. In Catlett's first season, 1972–73, the Bearcats were also 17-9, and they improved to 19-8 the following year. It was the 1974-75 season that Catlett and the Bearcats reached national prominence. Led by a crop of highly touted recruits including Pat Cummings, Brian Williams, Robert Miller, Mike Jones, Gary Yoder and Steve Collier, the Bearcats were 23-6 and advanced to the NCAA Midwest Regional Finals. By 1975-76, the team won the Metro Conference, posted a 25-6 record and were expected to make a deep run into the tournament, but the Bearcats were upset in the first rund on a last-second tip-in by Notre Dame. In 1976-77, the Bearcats were 25-5 and again won the Metro Conference, but they were again ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament.[7] During the three season from 1975-76 through 1977-78, the Bearcats were consistently ranked in the top 20.[8]

In six seasons at Cincinnati, Catlett posted a record of 126-44 (a .741 winning percentage).[9] took the Bearcats to three NCAA tournament appearances and one NIT appearance.[10] He left Cincinnati after a 17-10 season and under a cloud after the basketball program was penalized by the NCAA for numerous recruiting violations during his tenure.[11]

In 1978, he took over the head coaching job at West Virginia. During the decade before his arrival, the Mountaineers were 116-121.[12] Over the next 24 seasons, he posted a 439-276 record. Catlett's West Virginia teams won an average of 19 games a season and made eight trips to the NCAA tournament, including a 1998 Sweet 16 appearance.

On February 13, 2002, at age 61, Catlett announced his retirement. He had a career college coaching record of 565-320.[13]

In 1997, Catlett was nominated as the Big East Coach of the Year, but failed to win as John MacLeod took that honor.[14]

In late 2005 he publicly stated that he was considering running in the 2006 Republican primary in order to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Robert Byrd. He later declined to run.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Cincinnati Bearcats (Independent/Metro Conference) (1972–1978)
1972–73 Cincinnati 17-9
1973–74 Cincinnati 19-8 NIT 1st Round
1974–75 Cincinnati 23-6 NCAA 3rd Round
1975–76 Cincinnati 25-6 2-1 2nd NCAA 1st Round
1976–77 Cincinnati 25-5 4-2 2nd NCAA 1st Round
1977–78 Cincinnati 17-10 6-6 4th
Cincinnati: 126-44 12-9
West Virginia Mountaineers (ECAC) (1978–1982)
1978–79 West Virginia 16-12 7-3 2nd
1979–80 West Virginia 15-14 4-6 7th
1980–81 West Virginia 23-10 9-4 3rd NIT Semifinals
1981–82 West Virginia 27-4 13-1 1st NCAA 2nd Round
West Virginia: 81-40 33-14
West Virginia (Atlantic 10) (1982–1995)
1982–83 West Virginia 23-8 10-4 T-1st NCAA 1st Round
1983–84 West Virginia 20-12 9-9 T-4th NCAA 2nd Round
1984–85 West Virginia 20-9 16-2 1st NIT 1st Round
1985–86 West Virginia 22-11 15-3 2nd NCAA 1st Round
1986–87 West Virginia 23-8 15-3 2nd NCAA 1st Round
1987–88 West Virginia 18-14 12-6 3rd
1988–89 West Virginia 26-5 17-1 1st NCAA 2nd Round
1989–90 West Virginia 16-12 11-7 T-3rd
1990–91 West Virginia 17-14 10-8 T-3rd NIT 2nd Round
1991–92 West Virginia 20-12 10-6 3rd NCAA 1st Round
1992–93 West Virginia 17-12 7-7 6th NIT 2nd Round
1993–94 West Virginia 17-12 8-8 3rd NIT 2nd Round
1994–95 West Virginia 13-13 7-9 T-6th
West Virginia: 252-130 147-73
West Virginia Mountaineers (BigEast) (1996–2003)
1995–96 West Virginia 12-15 7-11 4th
1996–97 West Virginia 21-10 11-7 3rd NIT Quarterfinals
1997–98 West Virginia 24-9 11-7 3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1998–99 West Virginia 10-19 4-14 12th
1999–00 West Virginia 14-14 6-10 8th
2000–01 West Virginia 17-12 8-8 4th (West) NIT 1st Round
2001–02 West Virginia 8-20 1-15 7th (West)
West Virginia: 106-99 48-72
Total: 565-320

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


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