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Wendell Gale Catlett[1][2] (born October 31, 1940) is a retired American basketball coach who was head coach at the University of Cincinnati and West Virginia University.

Gale Catlett
Biographical details
Born (1940-10-31) October 31, 1940 (age 78)
Hedgesville, West Virginia
Playing career
1960–1963West Virginia
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1963–1965Richmond (assistant)
1965–1967Davidson (assistant)
1967–1971Kansas (assistant)
1971–1972Kentucky (assistant)
1978–2002West Virginia
Head coaching record
Tournaments7–11 (NCAA)
8–8 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
  • EAA Coach of the Year (1982)


Playing careerEdit

Born in Hedgesville, West Virginia, Catlett played for West Virginia from 1958 to 1963. He played on the freshman team in 1958-59, but missed the 1959-60 season with a broken wrist.[3] During his three varsity seasons (1960-61 through 1962-63), he helped the Mountaineers to two NCAA tournament berths. West Virginia went 24-4, 24-6 and 23-8 during Catlett's varsity seasons and won the Southern Conference title every season.[4] The 6-foot-5 forward totaled 407 points and 275 rebounds on Coach George King's guard-oriented teams.[3][5]

Assistant coachEdit

After completing his senior season in 1963, Catlett immediately turned to coaching. He got a job as an assistant coach at the University of Richmond under head coach Lew Mills, then at Davidson College in 1965 under Lefty Driesell, Kansas from 1967 to 1971 under Ted Owens, and finally Kentucky under Adolph Rupp in the 1971–72 season.[3][4]

Head coachEdit

In 1972, Gale Catlett was named head coach of University of Cincinnati, succeeding Tay Baker, whose team had gone 17-9 the year before. In Catlett's first season, 1972–73, the Bearcats were also 17-9, and they improved to 19-8 the following year. It was the 1974-75 season that Catlett and the Bearcats reached national prominence. Led by a crop of highly touted recruits including Pat Cummings, Brian Williams, Robert Miller, Mike Jones, Gary Yoder and Steve Collier, the Bearcats were 23-6 and advanced to the NCAA Midwest Regional Finals. By 1975-76, the team won the Metro Conference, posted a 25-6 record and were expected to make a deep run into the tournament, but the Bearcats were upset in the first round on a last-second tip-in by Notre Dame. During the three seasons from 1974-75 through 1976-77, the Bearcats were consistently ranked in the AP Poll, reaching as high as #2 in January 1977.[4][6] That season, the Bearcats were 25-5 and again won the Metro Conference, but they were again ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

In six seasons at Cincinnati, Catlett posted a record of 126-44 (a .741 winning percentage).[6] He left Cincinnati after a 17-10 season and under a cloud after the basketball program was penalized by the NCAA for numerous recruiting violations during his tenure.[7]

In 1978, he took over the head coaching job at West Virginia. During the decade before his arrival, the Mountaineers were 116-121.[8] Over the next 24 seasons, he posted a 439-276 record.[6] Catlett's West Virginia teams won an average of 19 games a season and made eight trips to the NCAA tournament, including a 1998 Sweet 16 appearance, where they upset a highly touted Cincinnati team.

On February 13, 2002, at age 61, Catlett announced his retirement. He had a career college coaching record of 565-320.[8]

In the year of 1997, Gale Catlett was nominated as the Big East Coach of the Year, but failed to win as John MacLeod took that honor.[9]

In late 2005 he publicly stated that he was considering running in the 2006 Republican primary in order to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Robert Byrd.[10] He later declined to run.[11]

Head coaching recordEdit

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Cincinnati Bearcats (NCAA University Division/Division I independent) (1972–1975)
1972–73 Cincinnati 17–9
1973–74 Cincinnati 19–8 NIT First Round
1974–75 Cincinnati 23–6 NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Cincinnati (independent): 59–23
Cincinnati Bearcats (Metro Conference) (1975–1978)
1975–76 Cincinnati 25–6 2–1 T–2nd NCAA Round of 32
1976–77 Cincinnati 25–5 4–2 2nd NCAA Round of 32
1977–78 Cincinnati 17–10 6–6 T–4th
Cincinnati (Metro): 59–21 12–9
Cincinnati (total): 126–44 12–9
West Virginia Mountaineers (Eastern Athletic Association/Atlantic 10 Conference) (1978–1995)
1978–79 West Virginia 16–12 7–3 T–2nd
1979–80 West Virginia 15–14 4–6 7th
1980–81 West Virginia 23–10 9–4 3rd NIT Semifinals
1981–82 West Virginia 27–4 13–1 1st NCAA Round of 32
1982–83 West Virginia 23–8 10–4 T–1st (West) NCAA Round of 64
1983–84 West Virginia 20–12 9–9 T–4th NCAA Round of 32
1984–85 West Virginia 20–9 16–2 1st NIT First Round
1985–86 West Virginia 22–11 15–3 T–2nd NCAA Round of 64
1986–87 West Virginia 23–8 15–3 2nd NCAA Round of 64
1987–88 West Virginia 18–14 12–6 3rd
1988–89 West Virginia 26–5 17–1 1st NCAA Round of 32
1989–90 West Virginia 16–12 11–7 T–3rd
1990–91 West Virginia 17–14 10–8 T–3rd NIT Second Round
1991–92 West Virginia 20–12 10–6 3rd NCAA Round of 64
1992–93 West Virginia 17–12 7–7 6th NIT Second Round
1993–94 West Virginia 17–12 8–8 T–3rd NIT Second Round
1994–95 West Virginia 13–13 7–9 T–6th
West Virginia (EAA/A-10): 333–170 180–87
West Virginia Mountaineers (Big East Conference) (1995–2002)
1995–96 West Virginia 12–15 7–11 4th (Six)
1996–97 West Virginia 21–10 11–7 3rd (Six) NIT Quarterfinals
1997–98 West Virginia 24–9 11–7 3rd (Six) NCAA Sweet 16
1998–99 West Virginia 10–19 4–14 12th
1999–00 West Virginia 14–14 6–10 T–8th
2000–01 West Virginia 17–12 8–8 4th (West) NIT First Round
2001–02 West Virginia 8–20 1–15 7th (West)
West Virginia (Big East): 106–99 48–72
West Virginia (total): 439–281 228–159
Total: 565–325

      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


  1. ^ "Greeks". The Monticola. West Virginia University. 1962. p. 186. The yearbook refers to Catlett as "Wendell G. Catlett".
  2. ^ McKay, Robert (March 1977), "There's More to Life Than Winning for the Super Cat", Cincinnati Magazine, pp. 49–52 Article refers to Catlett as "W. Gale Catlett".
  3. ^ a b c Antonik, John. "Profile: Gale Catlett". HoopsZone. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Men's Basketball: Head Coach Gale Catlett". West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Archived from the original on February 14, 2002. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  5. ^ "Galet Catlett". WVU Stats. West Virginia University. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Gale Catlett". sports-reference. Archived from the original on May 17, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Tim (March 14, 1998). "History still to judge Catlett reign at UC". Cincinnati Enquirer.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Vicki (February 14, 2002). "Catlett retires after 24 years as West Virginia coach". Associated Press.
  9. ^ "MacLeod vote not popular". New York Daily News. March 6, 1997. Archived from the original on April 18, 2012.
  10. ^ Savodnik, Peter (September 29, 2005). "Catlett waits for Capito to make a move". The Hill. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Julian, Norman. "Gale Catlett". The West Virginia Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 4, 2016.