Former UTC Basketball Coach Murray Arnold Passes Away

Led Mocs to 5, 20-win Seasons

Thursday, November 15, 2012 - by B.B. Branton

"Murray Arnold elevated Chattanooga basketball in the D-I era, not with a bang, but with an explosion. All of us who have followed have to try to live up to his standard. We talk to our kids about leaving a legacy. Coach Arnold left his legacy in a huge way.”

--- UTC head men’s basketball coach John Shulman

 

It was the early-1980s and one of the grandest eras in UTC basketball history.

Fans religiously flocked to the corner of East 4th and Mabel for the Gerald Wilkins and Willie White Show who captured newspaper headlines and the hearts of Chattanoogans and had McKenzie Arena rockin’ and rollin’ to the tune of 20-win seasons and NCAA and NIT appearances.

But it was UTC coach Murray Arnold who kept everyone on key and masterminded the 135 wins in six seasons along with three Southern Conference tournament titles and trips to the NCAA (3) and NIT (2).

Arnold who has the highest win percentage (74%) of any UTC basketball coach died Wednesday of cancer at the age of 74 in Deland, Fla.

“Coach Arnold  was as good a basketball mind as you could imagine,” said former  UTC basketball beat writer for the Chattanooga Free Press Mark McCarter who now writes for the Huntsville (Ala.) Times.

“He was the guy who helped the Mocs basketball program make that great transition from D-II to D-I. I cherish those three years I covered the team (1980-82).”

Arnold came to UTC in the fall of 1979 after one year as an assistant coach at Mississppi State and after a 13-14 record his first year, then ran off a school record five straight 20-win seasons.

Murray Arnold took the very successful Division II Chattanooga basketball program, and immediately made it a competitive, NCAA tournament caliber Division I program," said Mack McCarthy who coached at UTC after Arnold and won 243 games in 12 seasons with five NCAA appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 1997.

" Coach Arnold was able to do that because he was one of the brightest and most innovative people ever to coach the game.  All of the great successes of Mocs basketball trace their history to the foundations that Murray Arnold built."

In an era comprised of four future NBA players - Wilkins, White, Russ Schoene and Nick Morken – first Maclellan Gym and then McKenzie Arena (which opened in Nov. 1982) were the places to be on Saturday and Monday nights. Murray Arnold teams attracted more than 9,000 fans to McKenzie Arena eight times in a three-year period.

“Murray was one of the best floor coaches I have ever seen,” said former Chattanooga Free Press sports editor Sam Woolwine. “Without question, he was as good a college basketball coach as there was in the country.”

Following the great D-II era and a national championship in 1977 under Ron Shumate, Arnold led the Mocs to its first NCAA D-I appearance in 1981 (a loss to Maryland), the school’s first D-I tournament win the next season against N.C. State and NIT wins against Georgia in 1984 and Clemson and Lamar in 1985.

“Looking back at a two-year span, coach Arnold beat NC State in the 1982 NCAA tournament and the Wolfpack win the NCAA championship the next year,” said McCarter.

“In 82-83, the Mocs hosted two defending national champions at McKenzie Arena – losing to the NCAA champs North Carolina, Michael Jordan and Baylor School grad Jimmy Braddock (Dec. 21) and beating NCCAA national champs Tennessee Temple two months later.”

With his wife by his side in life and on the bench keeping offensive stats, Arnold won at every level as he guided Birmingham Southern to 159 wins and three NAIA national tournament appearances, led the Mocs to the NCAA and NIT tournaments and coached Okaloosa-Walton Community College (Fla) to the NJCAA national title in 1995.

Arnold was also a head coach at Western Kentucky and Stetson (Fla.) and was an assistant with the Chicago Bulls for one season (1985-86).

Funeral arrangements are pending.

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net


Cleveland State Cougars And Lady Cougars Look To Make Noise In Tournament

It's tournament time in Tennessee. The Regular season is just a recent memory now as the Cleveland State baseball and softball teams will turn their attention to the NJCAA/TCCAA Region VII Conference Tournament.   The new tournament format of a year ago, where only the top four teams qualified for postseason play didn't sit well with a lot of folks, so the format has been ... (click for more)

Lookouts Fall To Generals in Jackson, 5-3

JACKSON, TENN. --- The Lookouts lost their second consecutive game to the Generals in Wednesday's matinee series finale, 5-3. Garrett Gould (0-4) took the loss for Chattanooga. Jackson jumped out to an early lead again on Wednesday as Dan Paolini homered in the first inning down the left field line to score Jabari Blash and Kevin Rivers. Blash added an RBI single in the ... (click for more)

Catoosa Man Convicted Of Sexual Abuse Of 5 Young Girls Gets Life Plus 250 Years

A Catoosa County man convicted of the sexual abuse of five young girls and possession of child pornography has been sentenced to life plus 250 years. James Martin Ferris, 34, was found guilty after a recent trial. The day after his conviction, Judge Ralph Van Pelt set the sentence. Ferris on June 5, 2013, was indicted by the Catoosa County Grand Jury on 46 counts.   ... (click for more)

Jury Finds Glover Not Guilty Of Attempted Aggravated Robbery

A Criminal Court jury on Tuesday night found 22-year-old Imari Glover not guilty of the charge of attempted aggravated robbery. The trial only lasted several hours, and the panel deliberated about two hours. According to police, Glover and two friends made plans to rob the Moe's Southwest Grill on Gunbarrel Road on Nov. 17, 2010. However, they were stopped by police ... (click for more)

Use The Current Rail System Already In Place - And Response

Why spend $20 million or more on an unproven system to run from the Southside of Chattanooga when we already have the beginnings of a system?  The question apparently has surfaced of why the Choo Choo City doesn't have a rail line. We do have a rail line with the Tennessee Valley RR Museum and their hardware. And they already make runs from the Southside to close to Enterprise ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Clemson Prayer And Much More

Clemson’s football program, which has won 11 games in each of the past two years and was ranked 8 th in the nation after whipping Ohio State in this year’s Orange Bowl, has just been “blind-sided.” The Freedom from Religion Foundation claims Coach Dabo Sweeney and his staff are doing far too much “to promote Christianity to their student athletes.” Clemson promptly roared back ... (click for more)