CCU Coach Cliff Ellis retires

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

Cliff Ellis, who also coached at Clemson, Auburn and South Alabama during a five-decade career, retired today.

With 829 victories over 45 seasons, Ellis is the winningest active coach in the sport. The Chanticleers are 3-5 this season after beating NAIA opponent St. Andrews 110-46 on Monday.

When Ellis began coaching in the late 1960s, he was a Florida native. In 1972, despite having no previous college playing or coaching experience, he was hired as head coach at Cumberland Junior College. In 1975, he took over the South Alabama program.

In nine years with the Jaguars, Ellis won 171 games and is the second-winningest coach in school history. In addition to winning three Sun Belt regular-season championships and a trip to the NCAA and NIT, he served as USA’s athletic director.

The Tigers reached the NCAA tournament three times under his tutelage, including an ACC championship and a Sweet 16 berth in 1990.

In his 10 seasons with Auburn, Ellis coached the Tigers to 186 victories, the third most in program history after Joel Eaves and Bruce Pearl. His 1998-99 team went 29-4 and won the SEC, reaching the Sweet 16.

In 2003-04, Ellis’ other Auburn teams also reached the NCAA tournament, but Ellis was fired after a 14-14 record. He was hired by Coastal Carolina in 2007 after two years away from coaching.

Under Ellis’ guidance, the Chanticleers reached the NCAA tournament and NIT twice each, and won a pair of Big South conference titles before joining the Sun Belt in 2016.

While at Auburn, Ellis was named National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press. He is a member of both the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame.

Among Division I men’s basketball coaches, Ellis ranks 10th, one win behind Jim Phelan (830 wins at Mount St. Mary’s). Aside from him are Mike Krzyzewski (1,202), Jim Boeheim (1,015), Bob Huggins (935), Jim Calhoun (920), Roy Williams (903), Bob Knight (902), Dean Smith (879) and Adolph Rupp (876).

At Coastal Carolina University, which hosts Wofford on Saturday, assistant coach Benny Moss is expected to take over as interim coach.

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