Gene Bartow

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Gene Bartow
File:Gene Bartow.jpg
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1930-08-18)August 18, 1930[1]
Browning, Missouri
Died January 3, 2012(2012-01-03) (aged 81)
Birmingham, Alabama
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1961–1964 Central Missouri State
1964–1970 Valparaiso
1970–1974 Memphis
1974–1975 Illinois
1975–1977 UCLA
1978–1996 UAB
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1977–2000 UAB
Head coaching record
Overall 647–353
Accomplishments and honors
Missouri State High School Activities Assoc. (1957)
Missouri Valley Conference (1971–72), (1972–73)
Pac-8 Conference (1975–76), (1976–77)
Sun Belt Conference (1980–81), (1981–82), (1989–90)
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (1989)
National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (2009)
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2009

B. Gene Bartow (August 18, 1930 – January 3, 2012) was an American men's college basketball coach. The Browning, Missouri, native coached 36 years at six universities after coaching two high schools in Missouri for six years. In 1972 Bartow coached the Puerto Rico national basketball team in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

High school

Bartow began his coaching at the prep level in Missouri, coaching Shelbina and St. Charles High School basketball squads to a 145–39 win-loss mark in six seasons. His 1957 St. Charles team won the state championship, defeating North Kansas City in the Class L finals by a score of 60–54.


Bartow coached at Central Missouri State University from 1961 to 1964, Valparaiso University from 1964 to 1970, and Memphis State University from 1970 until 1974, and he led the Memphis State Tigers to the 1973 NCAA national championship game and consecutive Missouri Valley Conference titles in the 1971–72 and 1972–73 seasons. He coached the US national team in the 1974 FIBA World Championship, winning the bronze medal.[2]

Bartow signed a five-year contract to replace Harv Schmidt at the University of Illinois in 1974. A last-place team the previous campaign, the Fighting Illini finished tied for ninth in the Big Ten at 8–18 (4–14 in the conference) in 1975, Bartow's only season there.[3] Despite this, he was the first Illini coach to extensively recruit talented African American high school players from the Chicago area.[4] He was succeeded by Lou Henson.[3]

Bartow left his position to succeed John Wooden as the head coach of UCLA. Bartow coached at UCLA from 1975 to 1977, guiding them to a 52–9 record, including a berth in the 1976 Final Four. He coached the 1977 College Player of the Year, Marques Johnson. As of 2008, he is the second winningest coach at UCLA by percentage of wins to losses at .852, putting him behind Gary Cunningham at .862 and above John Wooden at .808.

Bartow left UCLA after the 1977 season to take over the job of creating an athletic program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, more commonly known as UAB. He served as the school's first head basketball coach and athletic director for 18 years. Bartow led UAB to the NIT in the program's second year of existence, and followed that up with seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including trips to the Sweet 16 in 1981 and the Elite Eight in 1982.

Bartow retired from coaching in 1996, and in 1997, UAB renamed its basketball venue, Bartow Arena, in his honor. His son Murry, a UAB assistant, became the coach upon Bartow's retirement; Bartow was later president of Hoops, LP, the company that runs the Memphis Grizzlies and the FedEx Forum.[5]

On April 15, 2009, a UAB spokesman revealed that Bartow had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.[6] On January 3, 2012, Gene Bartow died at his home in Birmingham after a two-year battle with the disease.[7]


In 1989, Bartow was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, 10 years later, in 1999, Central Missouri State (now the University of Central Missouri) also elected him to theirs.[8] Bartow was also voted one of Valparaiso University's 150 most influential people in October 2009. [2] Bartow was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City on November 22, 2009, along with fellow inductees Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wayman Tisdale, Jud Heathcote, Walter Byers, Travis Grant and Bill Wall. In 2013, Bartow was selected for induction into the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) Hall of Fame.[9]

Bartow vs Bryant

Bartow's aggressiveness towards developing the UAB athletics program led to controversy. In 1991, Bartow wrote a letter to NCAA officials after four UAB transfers from the University of Alabama's Tuscaloosa campus reported NCAA violations that happened on the Tuscaloosa campus. The letter also charged Paul "Bear" Bryant, Sr., the deceased football coach, with violations also. While the letter was later retracted, Bartow's letter brought the ire of the University of Alabama System's Board of Trustees. "Bear" Bryant's son, Paul Bryant, Jr., was a member of the board during this time. Also in 1991, the school had expanded to add football at the I-AA level, and then later moved to I-A (FCS) in 1996.

The anger of the younger Bryant against Bartow was well-known, and it was said that Bryant, who later became Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the entire system, was intentionally sabotaging the Birmingham campus. In 2006, the Blazers' football program had plans to hire LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher as head coach. The Board of Trustees, led by Bryant, rejected the deal. In 2011, the Blazers had plans to build an on-campus stadium to replace aging Legion Field. That was rejected by the Board of Trustees. Bryant, who had to retire by 2015 because of policy that mandated retirement from the Board at 70, was said to have led a vendetta against Bartow's legacy. The Blazers dropped football at the end of the 2014 season, which many at the Birmingham campus attributed to the younger Bryant's vendetta against Bartow.

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Central Missouri State Mules (Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1961–1964)
1961–62 Central Missouri State 16–6
1962–63 Central Missouri State 17–6
1963–64 Central Missouri State 14–9
Central Missouri State: 47–21
Valparaiso Crusaders (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1964–1970)
1964–65 Valparaiso 13–12 5–7 3rd
1965–66 Valparaiso 18–10 7–5 4th NCAA 2nd Round
1966–67 Valparaiso 21–8 7–5 2nd
1967–68 Valparaiso 11–15 3–9 6th
1968–69 Valparaiso 16–12 4–4 T–2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1969–70 Valparaiso 13–13 2–6 5th
Valparaiso: 92–70 28–30
Memphis State Tigers (Missouri Valley Conference) (1970–1974)
1970–71 Memphis State 18–8 8–6 4th
1971–72 Memphis State 21–7 12-2 T–1st NIT 1st Round
1972–73 Memphis State 24–6 12–2 1st NCAA Runner-Up
1973–74 Memphis State 19–11
Memphis State: 82–32 32–10
Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten Conference) (1974–1975)
1974–75 Illinois 8–18 4–14 T–9th
Illinois: 8–18 4–14
UCLA Bruins (Pacific-8 Conference) (1975–1977)
1975–76 UCLA 28–4† 13–1 1st NCAA 3rd Place
1976–77 UCLA 24–5 11–3 1st NCAA Sweet 16
UCLA: 52–9 24–4
UAB Blazers (Independent) (1978–1979)
1978–79 UAB 15–11
UAB Blazers (Sun Belt Conference) (1979–1991)
1979–80 UAB 18–12 10–4 T–2nd NIT 1st Round
1980–81 UAB 23–9 9–3 T–1st NCAA Sweet 16
1981–82 UAB 25–6 9–1 1st NCAA Elite 8
1982–83 UAB 19–14 9–5 3rd NCAA 1st Round
1983–84 UAB 23–11 8–6 5th NCAA 1st Round
1984–85 UAB 25–9 11–3 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1985–86 UAB 25–11 9–5 T–3rd NCAA 2nd Round
1986–87 UAB 21–11 10–4 3rd NCAA 1st Round
1987–88 UAB 16–15 7–7 5th
1988–89 UAB 22–12 8–6 4th NIT Final Four
1989–90 UAB 22–9 12–2 1st NCAA 1st Round
1990–91 UAB 18–13 9–5 2nd NIT 1st Round
UAB Blazers (Great Midwest Conference) (1991–1995)
1991–92 UAB 20–9 4–6 5th NIT 1st Round
1992–93 UAB 21–14 5–5 4th NIT Final Four
1993–94 UAB 22–8 8–4 T–2nd NCAA 1st Round
1994–95 UAB 15–15 5–7 6th
UAB: 77–46 22–22
UAB Blazers (Conference USA) (1995–1996)
1995–96 UAB 16–14 6–8 2nd (Red)
UAB: 340–203 139–81
Total: 647–353

      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

See also