Cliff Ellis

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Cliff Ellis is the winningest coach in Clemson basketball history on a total victories basis (177-128). Hired as Clemson's eighteenth basketball coach, he held the position for ten years, 1984-1994. He took the Tigers to eight post-season tournaments, three NCAAs and five NITs. He coached Clemson to the ACC regular season title in 1989-1990, the only regular season ACC title in Clemson history. The Tigers had a 24-8 record that year. His 1986-1987 team won a record 25 games.

Ellis set 33 Clemson coaching records, including ACC regular season victories, victories at home and home winning percentage. He coached Clemson to three NCAA Tournament appearances in a four-year period (1986-1990). He left Clemson after the 1993-1994 season to become the head coach at Auburn and he took the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament and a top-10 national ranking in 1998-1999.

Ellis won 22 games over top 25 teams in his ten years at Clemson, including an upset of 12th-ranked Florida State in the 1993 ACC Tournament, and a victory over a Number 2-ranked North Carolina team in 1994.

Ellis was named ACC Coach-of-the-Year in 1986-1987 and 1989-1990, the only Clemson coach to win that award.

Ellis was born December 5, 1945 in Marianna, Florida. His coaching career began as an assistant coach at C. W. Ruckle Junior High in Niceville, Florida, (1968-1969), then head coach at Niceville High in Niceville, Florida (1969-1971), and then head coach at Vanguard High in Ocala, Florida (1971-1972).

In 1972 he moved to the college level as head coach and athletic director at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, from 1972 to 1975.

Ellis was head coach at the University of South Alabama from 1975 to 1984. He is the all-time winningest coach in South Alabama history with a 171-84 during nine seasons. When Ellis became head coach, the administrators at South Alabama were thinking of dropping to Division II. Four years later, he had the Jaguars in the NCAA Tournament and six seasons later, they were ranked in the nation's top 10. Ellis, also was the athletic director during part of his tenure, led the Jaguars to three Sun Belt titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and two NITs.

On April 3, 1984 the former South Alabama coach was named the head basketball coach at Clemson University. Ellis replaced Bill Foster, who left for the University of Miami.

After his stint at Clemson, he moved onto Auburn University where he is the second-winningest coach in that school's history. Ellis led the Tigers to the 1999 SEC Championship with a 29-4 record, a state of Alabama record for most wins.

The Tigers reached the Sweet 16 in 1998-1999 and in 2002-2003 under Ellis. Ellis coached Auburn to the top three single season victory marks in school history, with the 1998-1999 season, the 1999-2000 season when Auburn went 24-10, and the 2002-2003 season where Auburn went 22-12.

Ellis claimed his 500th career Division I coaching victory in a 100-71 win over Georgia State November 26, 2002, to become only the 34th coach to reach the milestone since the NCAA started Division I play in 1948-1949.

At the end of the 2003-2004 season, Auburn relieved Ellis of coaching duties. He remained in the Auburn community, where his wife Carolyn ran for a state legislature seat in 2006.

After a short stint in broadcasting, Ellis was hired as head coach at Coastal Carolina on Monday, July 2, 2007, replacing Buzz Peterson, who left the program to become director of player personnel for the Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA.

In the 2009-2010 season, he led the Chanticleers to the school's first conference championship since 1990-1991. Coastal set new school records for victories in conference play (15) and the regular season (26) in the process.


Preceded by: Bill Foster Clemson University Basketball Coaches Succeeded by: Rick Barnes