Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis, college basketball's only active coach with more than 800 Division I wins, will retire, according to CBS Sports insider Jon Rothstein and multiple reports. Ellis has won 833 DI games, and with a stop at NAIA Cumberland University in the early 1970s, Ellis has 909 career victories spanning five decades to his name.
Ellis, who turned 78 on Tuesday, became the sport's oldest active head coach this season following the retirement of Syracuse legend Jim Boeheim. The Chanticleers started Ellis' eighth season 3-5.
Ellis' coaching journey included stops at South Alabama and Clemson before he arrived at Coastal Carolina in 2007 and proceeded to become the program's all-time winningest coach. Ellis led all four of the Division I programs he coached to at least one NCAA Tournament appearance and reached the Sweet 16 with Clemson (1990) and Auburn (1999 and 2003).
Entering the 2023-24 season, Ellis ranked No. 10 on the NCAA's all-time wins list. Beyond the basketball court, he's known for his musical talent, having released several records over the years. Between his stop at Auburn and his arrival at Coastal Carolina, Ellis also worked as a TV analyst on college basketball broadcasts.
Ellis' best season arguably came in the 1998-99 campaign at Auburn when he guided the Tigers to a 29-4 (14-2 SEC) record and regular-season league title. It stood as Auburn's most recent conference crown until Bruce Pearl's Tigers earned another one in 2018. The 1998-99 team, led by star forward Chris Porter, lost to Ohio State in the Sweet 16. In 2003, Ellis guided the Tigers back to the Sweet 16, where they fell 79-78 to eventual national champion Syracuse.