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


Covenant Drops Two To Ferrum

Joanna Smith scored a career-high 22 points and dished out five assists, but the Covenant women's basketball team could not overcome Ferrum in a 68-65 loss on Saturday inside Barnes PE Center. The loss was the second three-point defeat for Covenant (7-12, 4-7 USA South) in as many nights. Ferrum improves to 10-11 overall and 8-4 in the USA South. Smith tallied her 22 points ... (click for more)

Mocs Basketball Wins 62-54 Over Furman

The Chattanooga Mocs extended their Southern Conference lead with a 62-54 win over visiting Furman Saturday evening. Justin Tuoyo led the way with a game-high 19 points as UTC improves to 21-3, 10-1 in the SoCon. “We just needed to get some stops and rebounds,” coach Matt McCall noted. “That was what the game was going to come down to. Once the ball is up in the air, I have ... (click for more)

Arrests Made In Connection With Fire At Brainerd Trophy Shop

Fire investigators Captain Moore and Captain McElvain made two arrests Friday night in connection with the fire at the Brainerd Trophy Shop that occurred  on Friday  morning. Gene Wegg and Pamela McNabb, have been arrested and charged with arson by the Chattanooga Fire Department. The two allegedly broke into the Brainerd Trophy Shop and set fire to the building, ... (click for more)

TBI Case Leads To Charges For Woman In Death Of Whitwell Boy

A joint investigation by special agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Whitwell Police Department has resulted in charges for a Whitwell woman in connection to the death of her boyfriend’s son. At the request of 12 th  District Attorney J. Michael Taylor, TBI apecial agents began investigating the death of six-year-old Lucas Michael Dillon on March 29, ... (click for more)

The City I Used To Know

“They Dead”, the innocent young voice said as tears began streaming from my eyes.  Foolishness that didn’t involve him snatched away his childhood in the blink of an eye.  Why?  Why has my city become known more for gangs and violence than the River Front, Lookout Mountain, and a fun little theme park?  What happened to hot summers at Lake Winnie, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Stick Of Dynamite

You may have seen the Tennessee Legislature jumped on the bandwagon to send “an atomic bomb” to Washington this week. The “bomb” makes Tennessee the fifth state to adopt a Convention of the States Project that will hopefully limit the power and the jurisdiction of federal government. The official wording is “to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power ... (click for more)