The Charlotte 49ers men's basketball team represents the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) in NCAA Division I basketball. The 49ers are charter members of Conference USA. Charlotte returned to C-USA in 2013 after leaving in 2005 to join the Atlantic 10 Conference. The 49ers have also played in the Sun Belt Conference and were a member of the Metro Conference, which merged with the Great Midwest Conference to form Conference USA.
|Charlotte 49ers Men's Basketball|
|University||University of North Carolina at Charlotte|
|All-time record||792–661 (.545)|
|Head coach||Ron Sanchez (4th season)|
|Location||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Arena||Dale F. Halton Arena |
|Student section||Niner Nation|
|Colors||Green and white|
|NCAA Tournament Final Four|
|NCAA Tournament Elite Eight|
|NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen|
|NCAA Tournament Round of 32|
|1977, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001|
|NCAA Tournament Appearances|
|1977, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005|
|Conference tournament champions|
|1969, 1970 (Dixie)|
1977, 1988 (Sun Belt)
1999, 2001 (CUSA)
|Conference regular season champions|
|1977, 1978, 1988 (Sun Belt) |
The basketball team has spent the better part of its history in the shadow of the state's four Atlantic Coast Conference teams. However, the 49ers have carved out a niche of their own, making 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. In their first appearance, in 1977, they advanced all the way to the Final Four—at the time, the deepest run for a first-time tournament participant. They have also earned regular and post-season championships in three different conferences.
The 49ers' current head coach is Ron Sanchez, who took over on March 20, 2018 after interim head coach Houston Fancher was let go. The 49ers play their home games in Dale F. Halton Arena, an on-campus facility that seats 9,105.
Early years (1965–1975)Edit
UNC Charlotte first fielded an intercollegiate basketball program in 1965. Chancellor Bonnie Cone appointed Harvey Murphy, previously a physical education instructor and head of the physical education program at the university, as the first head coach in school history. Murphy coached the 49ers in the NAIA as a member of the Dixie Conference from 1965 through 1970, winning the conference in 1969 and 1970.
Bill Foster was hired to succeed Harvey Murphy after the 1969–1970 season as the 49ers moved from the NAIA to Division I as an independent. Foster notched two 20-win seasons in 1973–1974 and 1974–1975 before moving on to coach at Clemson. Foster's lasting legacy on the program was bringing in two of the most notable players on the team which would advance to the 1977 Final Four: Cedric Maxwell and Melvin Watkins.
Lee Rose years (1975–1977)Edit
After Bill Foster left for Clemson, Lee Rose was hired as the head coach in 1975. Rose inherited a team coming off of two 20-win seasons and led them to the NIT championship game in his first year. The following season the 49ers became a charter member of the Sun Belt Conference.
In their first year in the Sun Belt, the 49ers tallied what is still the best season in school history. They swept the regular season and tournament titles, earning the program's first NCAA Tournament berth. The ensuing NCAA tournament run is still one of the most successful ever for a first-time participant. After beating Central Michigan in the first round 91–86, the 49ers dispatched Syracuse 81–59 to advance to the Elite Eight. The 49ers then took out heavily favored Michigan by a score of 75–68 to advance to the program's first and only Final Four—the first time that a first-time participant had ever advanced that far. Charlotte would fall to eventual champions Marquette in the national semifinals 51–49. Their final record was 28–5, still a school record for wins in a season.
Despite the loss of the two leaders of the Final Four team from the previous season, Lee Rose guided the 49ers to a fifth consecutive 20-win season in 1977–1978. Rose would then leave to coach at Purdue for the 1978–1979 season. Rose's .800 winning percentage at Charlotte remains the highest in school history.
Post-Rose years (1978–1985)Edit
Following Rose's departure, Mike Pratt, an assistant under Rose at Charlotte, was named the head coach for the 1978–1979 season. In his first and only head coaching job, Pratt could not maintain the success of the program under Rose, compiling a 56–52 record over four seasons with no postseason appearances. The best year under Pratt was the 1978–1979 season in which the 49ers earned a 16–11 record and a second place Sun Belt finish. Pratt was dismissed following the 1981–1982 season.
Following Pratt's dismissal, the 49ers hired Hal Wissel as head basketball coach. Wissel was previously a successful coach at many levels, but his tenure would be the least successful in the Charlotte's history at the Division 1 level. After three seasons and a 22–62 record, Wissel was dismissed following the 1984–1985 season.
Jeff Mullins years (1985–1996)Edit
Following Wissel's dismissal, Jeff Mullins was hired as both head basketball coach and athletic director. Mullins guided the 49ers through multiple conference changes and kicked off the most successful, sustained run in school history.
Mullins inherited a last place Sun Belt team and things didn't improve in his first season with an 8–20 record. However, in just his second year he guided the 49ers back above .500 for the first time in five seasons, leading them to an 18–14 record in 1986–1987. Led by Sun Belt Player of the Year Byron Dinkins, Mullins coached the 49ers to the Sun Belt regular season and post-season championships and the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since their Final Four run. Seeded 13th, the 49ers lost to 4th seed BYU in the first round of the Southeast Regional by a score of 98–92.
The following season the 49ers finished second in the Sun Belt and earned an NIT berth. In their final two seasons in the Sun Belt, Mullins led the 49ers to a 30–28 record with no postseason appearances.
Metro Conference (1992–1995)Edit
Prior to the 1992–1993 season the 49ers moved to the Metro Conference. In their four seasons in the Metro Conference, the 49ers never finished lower than 4th in the standings, won one regular season conference title, and one post-season conference title. The success was rewarded with two NCAA Tournament berths, in 1992 and 1995, losing in the first round both times.
After the 1994–1995 season, the 49ers joined Conference USA. In what would be Mullins' last season, Charlotte went 14–15 in 1995–1996, finishing tied for 6th in the league. Mullins retired following that season as the all-time winningest coach in school history with 182 wins and also had more postseason appearances than all previous coaches combined.
Former on-the-court star and longtime assistant coach for the 49ers Melvin Watkins took over as head coach for the 1996–1997 season. Watkins had two successful seasons as the Charlotte head coach, leading the team into the second round of the NCAA tournament in both years. He left to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M in 1998.
Bobby Lutz years (1998–2010)Edit
After Watkins left for Texas A&M, Charlotte named Bobby Lutz its new head coach. Lutz was an assistant under both Watkins and Jeff Mullins at Charlotte. Lutz accepted the head coaching job at Gardner–Webb in 1995 only to resign two weeks later to accept the assistant job at his alma mater on Mullin's staff.
Lutz's run of success in Conference USA is arguably the best sustained stretch in Charlotte basketball history. The 49ers reached the NCAA Tournament in 5 of the 7 years they were in Conference USA under Lutz.
In his first season, Lutz guided the 49ers to a 10–6 record in CUSA. Seeded fifth in the conference tournament, the 49ers won four games in four days, taking out three of the top four seeds in the process to win the CUSA conference tournament for the first time. This earned Charlotte a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They defeated Rhode Island in the first round before falling to 13-seed Oklahoma in round two.
The 1999–2000 season would be defined by the passing of Charles Hayward in September 1999. Hayward lost a two-year battle with Leukemia, he would have his jersey retired. Charlotte would play to a 17–16 record and earn an NIT berth.
The 2000–2001 seasons saw the arrival of Rodney White who would become the top scoring freshman in the country and be named ESPN's National Freshmen of the Year. Led by White, Charlotte would win its second CUSA Tournament Title in three years and earn a 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a 22–11 record. Charlotte would defeat Tennessee in the first round of the Midwest Regional before falling to #1 seed Illinois in the round of 32. White would leave Charlotte for the NBA Draft and be selected 9th overall by the Detroit Pistons.
The 2004–2005 season would see the 49ers return to the top 25 behind eventual CUSA Player of the Year Eddie Basden, he would also win CUSA Defensive POY for the second straight season. The promising season would take a turn for the worse in the last few weeks. The 49ers lost a game on senior night at Louisville which would determine the regular season conference champion. They followed that with a loss on an emotional senior night at South Florida. They then drew a Memphis team in the CUSA tournament who had under-performed all year but caught fire at the end of the season. Charlotte was bounced from the first round of the CUSA tournament and had their season ended in round 1 of the NCAA tournament by NC State.
Following the exodus of many of the top basketball programs from CUSA to the Big East in 2005, Charlotte was left as a non-football school in an increasingly weak basketball conference despite having the second best record in CUSA history at the time, trailing only Cincinnati. Charlotte eventually joined the Atlantic 10 for all sports along with fellow CUSA member Saint Louis. Lutz was not able to sustain the level of success he achieved in CUSA. Over the course of six seasons in the A10, Lutz's record was 83–75, compared to his record of 135–83 in CUSA. The 49ers earned two NIT bids under Lutz in the A10, going 1–2 in those tournaments. The 49ers fell apart to end the 2009–2010 season. With eight games to go in the regular season, they were 18-5 and in first place in the A10, and appeared well on their way to an NCAA bid. However, they went 1–7 the rest of the way, and didn't even receive an NIT bid. Lutz was dismissed following this collapse.
Lutz had more wins (218) and NCAA tournament appearances (5) than any other coach in Charlotte history. His firing was met with mixed emotions among students and fans.
Alan Major years (2010–2015)Edit
On April 12, 2010 Alan Major was announced as the new head coach of the Charlotte 49ers. The coaching search targeted assistants at successful high-level programs, Major was a member of Thad Matta's staff at Ohio State which included a national title game appearance. Throughout his career Major has a history of helping highly skilled big men develop into great NBA prospects. He coached two future #1 overall draft picks in Michael Olowokandi and Greg Oden while at Pacific and Ohio State, respectively. He also came in with A10 experience having been as assistant under Matta at Xavier.
Major's first season was headlined by the dismissal of one senior big man, Shamarri Spears, in the Fall and another, Phil Jones, not qualifying academically for the Spring semester. The early season schedule was highlighted by a 49–48 victory over #7 ranked Tennessee and a 2OT win at Georgia Tech. Following Jones being ruled ineligible, the team was left with just 8 scholarship players for the remainder of the season and would struggle in conference play, finishing with a 2–14 league record and failing to make the A10 conference tournament for the first time. The three-year postseason drought had been the longest for the program since Jeff Mullins took over in 1985.
The 2011–2012 season saw less off-the-court drama, although individual players were benched for disciplinary reasons, but there was little improvement in terms of wins and losses. The 49ers would finish with a 13–17 record, 5–11 in conference play. This was an improvement of Major's first year and earned them an A10 tournament spot, a first round loss at St. Joe's. Chris Braswell would average 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and be named to the A10 All-Conference Third Team. Pierriá Henry was among the nation's leaders in steals and earned a spot on the A10 All-Rookie Team.
The 2012–2013 season resulted in an improved 21–12 record and a berth in the NIT. The season was successful overall, but the 49ers lost four games in a row in February/March which removed them from NCAA tournament consideration. This was followed by a miraculous first round A10 tournament victory over Richmond in which Pierriá Henry took 11 free throws in the final 4.7 seconds of game time to overcome a 3-point deficit. Richmond was called for three technical fouls, one non-shooting foul and one shooting foul in that time. The 49ers followed this with a blowout loss to St. Louis in the 2nd round. In the NIT the 49ers were eliminated in round 1 at Providence.
Following the 2012–13 season, Darion Clark announced he was leaving the program. Clark saw a total of seven minutes in the 49ers' two A10 tournament games, a large drop from his regular season average. In late April forward E. Victor Nickerson also announced he was transferring, leaving Charlotte with only 6 scholarship players on roster.
The 2013–2014 season, in which the 49ers would rejoin Conference USA and claim the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship by beating a ranked Michigan team; ended with a late season 6 game losing streak in conference play, and the 49ers finishing with a 17–14 record and a second round exit from the C-USA Tournament.
Having taken a medical leave of absence following the 2013–14 season, Coach Major would take another such leave during the second half of the 2014–15 season. Assistant Head Coach Ryan Odom would coach the team for the remainder of the season. Following the conclusion of the 2014–2015 season it was announced that Major would step down as head coach. His record as 49ers head coach was 67 wins to 70 losses with the program attaining an overall record during his tenure of 75 to 81. Significant milestones included winning the 2012 Great Alaska Shootout and 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-off tournaments and victories over #7 ranked Tenessesse, #10 ranked Butler, and previous National Championship runners-up, #14 ranked Michigan.
Mark Price years (2015–2017)Edit
On March 25, 2015, former NBA point guard and NBA Charlotte Hornets assistant coach, Mark Price was offered a five-year contract to become the 49ers head coach, which he accepted. Price was fired on December 14, 2017 after a 30-42 record in 2 1/2 seasons at Charlotte and was replaced by assistant coach Houston Fancher.
Ron Sanchez years (2018–)Edit
On March 19, 2018, Ron Sanchez was named the 12th head coach in Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball program history. Sanchez was a former volunteer assistant at Indiana before going to Washington State. Sanchez was hired by Dick Bennett, and remained on the staff when Bennett’s son Tony took over. Sanchez accompanied Tony Bennett to Virginia in 2009 as an assistant and was promoted to associate head coach in 2015.
|Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NAIA) (1963–1970)|
|1969–1970||Harvey Murphy||14–16||10–4||T-2nd||NAIA District Playoffs|
|Independent (Division I) (1970–1976)|
|Sun Belt Conference (Division I) (1976–1991)|
|1976–1977||Lee Rose||28–5||5–1||1st||NCAA Final Four|
|1987–1988||Jeff Mullins||22–9||11–3||1st||NCAA First round|
|Metro Conference (Division I) (1991–1995)|
|1991–1992||Jeff Mullins||23–9||7–5||2nd||NCAA First round|
|1994–1995||Jeff Mullins||19–9||8–4||1st||NCAA First round|
|Conference USA (Division I) (1995–2005)|
|1996–1997||Melvin Watkins||22–9||10–4||3rd||NCAA Second round|
|1997–1998||Melvin Watkins||20–11||13–3||2nd||NCAA Second round|
|1998–1999||Bobby Lutz||23–11||10–6||T-3rd||NCAA Second round|
|2000–2001||Bobby Lutz||22–11||10–6||2nd||NCAA Second round|
|2001–2002||Bobby Lutz||18–12||11–5||3rd||NCAA First round|
|2003–2004||Bobby Lutz||21–9||12–4||1st||NCAA First round|
|2004–2005||Bobby Lutz||21–8||12–4||2nd||NCAA First round|
|Atlantic 10 Conference (Division I) (2005–2013)|
|Conference USA (Division I) (2013–present)|
|2017–2018||Mark Price, Houston Fancher (Interim)||6–23||2–16||14th|
Postseason invitational champion
NCAA tournament resultsEdit
The 49ers have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 11 times. Their combined record is 7–12.
National 3rd Place Game
|W 91–86 OT|
|1988||#13||First Round||#4 BYU||L 92–98 OT|
|1992||#7||First Round||#10 Iowa State||L 74–76|
|1995||#7||First Round||#10 Stanford||L 68–70|
#1 North Carolina
L 83–93 OT
|#12 Rhode Island
|2002||#9||First Round||#8 Notre Dame||L 63–82|
|2004||#9||First Round||#8 Texas Tech||L 73–76|
|2005||#7||First Round||#10 NC State||L 63–75|
The 49ers have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) seven times. Their combined record is 4–7.
|1989||First Round||Connecticut||L 62–67|
|1994||First Round||Duquesne||L 73–75|
|2000||First Round||Ole Miss||L 45–62|
|2008||First Round||Nebraska||L 48–67|
|2013||First Round||Providence||L 66–75|
Current coaching staffEdit
|Ron Sanchez||Head Coach|
|Vic Sfera||Assistant Coach|
|Kotie Kimble||Assistant Coach|
|Aaron Fearne||Assistant Coach|
Head coach historyEdit
|Totals||11 coaches||52 seasons||846–707||.545|
- An asterisk (*) denotes a season currently in progress.
|23||Jarvis Lang||1990–1991; 1992–1995|
Conference Player of the Year winnersEdit
|Sun Belt||Cedric Maxwell||1976–1977|
|Sun Belt||Byron Dinkins||1987–1988|
|Conference USA||DeMarco Johnson||1997–1998|
|Conference USA||Eddie Basden||2004–2005|
The following Charlotte basketball players appeared in at least one game in the NBA:
Hornet's Nest TrophyEdit
Charlotte's 29-year rivalry with the Davidson Wildcats sees Mecklenburg County's only two Division I schools go head-to-head for the Hornet's Nest Trophy. The Hornets' Nest series began in the 1979-80 season. The teams have met 46 times. Charlotte leads the all-time series, 29-17. Although, in recent years Davidson has been the better team.
On November 12, 2019, Charlotte won back the Hornets Nest, winning 71-58, and snapping a 6 game losing streak.
Charlotte has had its fair share of intense rivalries. One of the most heated and intense rivalries was with the Bob Huggins-coached Cincinnati Bearcats of Conference USA. Throughout a ten-year period from 1995–96 to 2004–05, Charlotte managed to upset Cincinnati teams ranked #3, #8, #18, #20 in the country. Fueled by "Huggins swallows" pregame chants what became known as the Cincinnati Incident, a brawl broke out between Cincinnati and the Charlotte student section, when a Cincinnati player threw the basketball into the stands. This led to the creation of a 'buffer zone' being implemented behind the visiting team's bench. ESPN commentator Andy Katz provided this explanation on why Charlotte-Cincinnati was one of the juiciest rivalries in the country: "The games are hotly contested usually and the fans in Charlotte don't like Cincinnati. They get up for this game more than any other."
|6||Jarvis Lang||1990–1991, 1992–1995||1855|
|2||Jarvis Lang||1990–1991, 1992–1995||1047|
|5||Delano Johnson||1989–1992, 1993–1994||496|
|6||Delano Johnson||1989–1992, 1993–1994||189|
|T – 9||Demon Brown||2001–2004||149|
|T – 9||Jarvis Lang||1990–1991, 1992–1995||149|
|4||Jarvis Lang||1990–1991, 1992–1995||103|
|4||Tremaine Gardiner||1995–1997, 1998–2000||123|
|Rank||Player||Years||Three Pointers Made|
Single game recordsEdit
|Free Throws Made||Sean Colson & DeMarco Johnson||12/20/1997 & 2/9/1998||16||G. Washington & Tulane|
|Rebounds||Ben Basinger & Cedric Maxwell||12/3/1970 & 2/19/1977||24||Florida Presbyterian & Seton Hall|
|Steals||Eddie Basden (twice), 7 other players||2/2/2008 (latest, Charlie Coley)||7||Richmond (latest)|
|Minutes Played||Phil Ward||1/5/1981||53||Jacksonville|
|Three Pointers Made||Brendan Plavich||11/26/2003||10||Syracuse|
- "Charlotte 49ers Index".
- 49ers Color System (PDF). Charlotte 49ers Brand Standards. June 23, 2020. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
-  Charlotte 49ers Join Conference USA
-  Remembering Hayward
- [permanent dead link] Charlotte 49ers Freshman Rodney White Named ESPN.com's National Freshman of the Year
-  Lutz fired after 12 seasons at Charlotte
-  Charlotte Fires Bobby Lutz: An Emotional Day For 49er Fans
-  Charlotte 49ers' Henry, Braswell pick up A-10 honors
-  Charlotte 68, Richmond 63
-  Basketball, Football Transfer News
-  C49ers and Alan Major Mutually Agree to Part Ways
-  Mark Price to coach Charlotte 49ers
- Reed, Steve (December 14, 2017). "Charlotte fires basketball coach, former NBA star Mark Price". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
- Scott, David (March 19, 2018). "Charlotte 49ers find next basketball coach on bench of No. 1 NCAA seed". charlotteobserver.com. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
-  2010–11 Charlotte Men's Basketball Media guide
-  Charlotte 49ers
- "Charlotte". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
-  Charlotte Men's Basketball Won/Loss History
- "OrthoCarolina Sponsors Battle for Hornets' Nest Game - Charlotte Athletics". Charlotte 49ers. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charlotte 49ers men's basketball.|