On the first edition of HBCU Coach Profile, we will be highlighting Clarence “Big House” Gaines the legendary basketball coach for the Rams of Winston-Salem State University.
Clarence Gaines played basketball, football and ran track for the Morgan State Bears. As a football player, he was an All-CIAA selection for all four seasons of his college career and a two-time All-American in addition to leading the Bears to three CIAA championship wins.
— HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday) August 26, 2015
At the end of his college career, Gaines began his coaching career for the Winston-Salem State Rams football and basketball teams. His time as head football coach for the Rams was short serving as head coach only coaching the team for three years. He was selected CIAA Football Coach of the Year in 1948 after leading the Rams to an 8-1 season.
Gaines would have much more success as head coach of the Rams’ basketball team winning eight CIAA Championships, and was named CIAA Coach of the Year six times.
In 1967, Gaines led the Rams to a win in the NCAA Division II championship tournament led by future NBA star and Hall of Famer Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. This made Winston-Salem the first HBCU to win the Division II tournament (HBCU’s have accounted for seven Division tournament championships since).
March 17, 1967: @WSSU_Athletics becomes the first HBCU to win an @NCAA basketball title. The team is led by Hall of Fame coach Clarence "Big House" Gaines and the one and only @EarlThePearl_15. pic.twitter.com/EtEgyYjPh2
— HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday) March 17, 2020
He has the most wins for any head coach of an HBCU basketball basketball program and is in the top 20 in wins in college basketball history with 828 total and a career win percentage of .649.
Clarence Gaines was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1976, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1978, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Clarence Gaines unfortunately passed away in 2005 due to complications from a stroke at the age of 81.