William & Mary is one of five original Division I teams in history to have never participated in the NCAA Tournament. When the NCAA split its classification into divisions in 1948–49, William & Mary was classified as a Division I school. Of all Division I schools today that were charter members of this new classification, only William & Mary, The Citadel, Northwestern, Army, and St. Francis Brooklyn have never reached the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at least once. The closest effort by the Tribe to reach the NCAA Tournament was a 75–74 loss in the 2014 CAA Tournament Final to Delaware. The Tribe also lost conference tournament championships in 1958, 1961, 1965, 1975, 1983, 2008, and 2010, now having gone 0-for-8 in NCAA Tournament berth-clinching games.
The 2008 Men's basketball season was just another season for the Tribe, fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association and needing to win the tournament in order to have any chance at a postseason bid. It would have somewhat of a magical end, however, as they became the first team ever, in NCAA history, to score 4 baskets in 4 conference tournament games, with less than 8 seconds left in each game: First round: David Schneider 3-pointer with less than a second left to beat Georgia State, 58–57(ironically enough, exactly one year earlier, this was how Georgia State beat William and Mary) Quarterfinals: Nathan Mann 3-pointer with 7.5 seconds left to beat Old Dominion, 63–60 Semifinals: Laimus Kisielius layup with 3 seconds left to beat VCU, 56–54. The Tribe fans stormed the Richmond Coliseum court. Championship Game: Danny Sumner 3-pointer with no time left(this had no effect on the outcome; the basket DID count, but George Mason had already won the game) made the final score 68–59 in favor of the Patriots.
Through February 17, 2010, the Tribe sported a 19–7 record, including upset road wins over heavily favored ACC opponents Wake Forest and Maryland. These wins and other impressive showings, including a hard-fought loss to Connecticut, garnered William and Mary votes in the AP and coaches' polls during several weeks early in the season. After reaching the CAA Finals and ending their regular season with a 22–10 record (12–6, CAA), the Tribe earned its second NIT berth in school history.
William & Mary joined the Colonial Athletic Association, its current conference, in 1982–83. The CAA's predecessor was the ECAC South, which existed between 1977–78 and 1984–85. The CAA recognizes the 1982–83 through 1984–85 seasons as part of its basketball history but not any earlier. The CAA was formally founded in 1982–83 as the ECAC South Basketball League. It was renamed the Colonial Athletic Association in 1985–86 when it added championships in other sports (although a number of members maintain ECAC affiliation in some sports).
Banners honoring the 1983 NIT berth, Keith Cieplicki, Bill Chambers
Banners honoring Chet Giermak, John Lowenhaupt, Jeff Cohen and Lynn Norenberg
William & Mary has retired five men's basketball jerseys in its program's history. Uniform numbers are not retired, only ceremonial jerseys. Banners depicting the all-time greats hang in the rafters of Kaplan Arena (the banner in white is for Lynn Norenberg, the only W&M women's basketball player to have a jersey retired). There also hang banners which commemorate their 1983 National Invitation Tournament and 2010 National Invitation Tournament bids.