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Hugh Durham

Hugh Durham
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1937-10-26) October 26, 1937
Louisville, Kentucky
Playing career
1952-1956 Eastern High School
1956–1959 Florida State
Position(s) Point guard, shooting guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1966–1978 Florida State
1978–1995 Georgia
1997–2005 Jacksonville
Head coaching record
Overall 634–430
Accomplishments and honors
1 NCAA Championship Runner Up (1972)
8 NCAA Appearances (1968, 1972, 1978, 1983,1985, 1987, 1990, 1991)
7 NIT Appearances (1980, 1981, 1983, 1985,1987, 1992, 1994)
1 Metro Conference Regular Season Champion (1978)
2 Southeastern Conference Tournament Champions (1983)
Southeastern Conference Regular Season Champions (1990)
1 Metro Conference Coach of the Year (1978)
4 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year (1981, 1986, 1987, 1990)
Florida State University Hall of Fame (1980)
Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (2009)
Florida Sports Hall of Fame (1999)
Kentucky High School Hall of Fame (1994)

Hugh Durham (born October 26, 1937) is the first and only coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball to lead two different schools to the NCAA Final Four for the first and only time in each school's history (Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith and John Wooden in three consecutive NCAA Tournament games. Durham's Seminoles knocked off Rupp's Kentucky Wildcats and Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels. In the NCAA Championship game, Wooden's UCLA Bruins edged the Seminoles to win the title. Wooden, Rupp and Smith combined to win 16 NCAA Championships in their careers.

Durham is the only coach in NCAA Division I history to be the all-time most successful coach at three different Universities. His career spanned five decades at Florida State University, the University of Georgia, and Jacksonville University.

In 1966-67, Durham signed Lenny Hall who was the first African-American basketball player at Florida State University.

In 2003, Durham became only the 32nd basketball head coach in NCAA Division I history to win 600 career games.

When he retired from coaching in 2005, Durham was the eighth most successful coach among active NCAA Division I coaches with 633 victories. He had coached in 1,062 games, the third highest number of games for a head coach in NCAA Division I history. Durham was the 25th most successful coach in NCAA Division I history and had been voted conference Coach of the Year four times in the Southeastern Conference and once in the Metro Conference.

During his career, Durham coached nine All-Americans, four Academic All-Americans, four first round NBA draft picks including Dave Cowens and Dominique Wilkins, had 31 players drafted by the NBA, plus sent two players to the US Olympic basketball team, one of which was Vern Fleming (1984).

Durham is a native of Louisville, Kentucky.

Durham was a highly recruited three sport star at Eastern High School. He was an all-state quarterback and all-region in basketball. He chose to play basketball in college and accepted a scholarship offer from Florida State University.

Durham was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2012


  • College career 1
  • Coaching career 2
    • Florida State Seminoles 2.1
    • Georgia Bulldogs 2.2
    • Jacksonville Dolphins 2.3
  • Head coaching record 3
  • Legacy 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

College career

At Florida State University, Durham is one of the most prolific scorers in Seminole basketball history. He appears prominently in the Florida State record book as both a player and head coach. Durham was a guard for FSU head coach Bud Kennedy.

Over fifty years after his FSU career ended, Durham's career average of 18.9 points per game is still the ninth best in school history. His 21.9 points per game in 1958-59 remains the seventh best single season average in FSU history. On January 19, 1957 Durham scored 43 points against Stetson University. It is still the second-best single game scoring mark in school history. For his three-year varsity career, Durham scored 1,381 points. Durham played prior to college basketball adopting the three-point shot.

In 1999 Florida State renamed its Most Valuable Player award the "Hugh Durham Most Valuable Player" award in his honor.

In 1959, Durham graduated from Florida State with a B.A. in business administration. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. In 1961, he earned an M.B.A. from Florida State.

Coaching career

Florida State Seminoles

After Durham received his undergraduate degree from Florida State in 1959, FSU head coach Bud Kennedy hired him as an assistant coach. Durham served as Kennedy's assistant for seven seasons.

Prior to the 1966-67 season, Kennedy was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died shortly thereafter. Durham was elevated to head coach at Florida State at the age of 29. He is one of the youngest head coaches in NCAA Division I basketball history.

Durham was head coach at his alma mater for 12 seasons, is the school's all-time most successful coach, led the Seminoles to the 1972 NCAA Championship game and three NCAA Tournaments.

In 1966-67 season, Durham recruited and coached the first African-American basketball player in Florida State sports history. As an assistant coach, Durham recruited Lenny Hall. Hall was a native of Camden, NJ, who was playing for St. Petersburg Junior College. Both Bud Kennedy and Durham signed Hall. However, Kennedy died before Hall played his first game at FSU. As a 29-year-old first-year head coach, Durham was the subject of intense criticism.

In the 1967-68 season, only his second as head coach at FSU, Durham led the Seminoles to only their second NCAA Tournament in school history. FSU received an NCAA Tournament at-large bid as an Independent at a time when only 25 teams were invited to play in the NCAA Tournament. Future NBA Hall of Famer Dave Cowens was a sophomore and the catalyst of the 1968 team.

In 1972, Durham led Florida State to the greatest basketball season in school history. The team went 27-6 and earned another at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles shocked the basketball world by advancing to the NCAA Championship game.

To reach the 1972 NCAA Championship game, Florida State played in the NCAA Mideast Region in Dayton, OH. Durham's talented, defensive-oriented but underrated squad was led by Ron King, Reggie Royals, Rowland Garrett and diminutive point guard Otto Petty.

In the Mideast Region Semifinals, the Seminoles defeated Big Ten Champion, University of Minnesota, 70-56. In the Mideast Region Finals, Florida State defeated the University of Kentucky, 73-54. Kentucky was the SEC Champion. The game was legendary head coach Adolph Rupp's last game at Kentucky where he won four NCAA titles.

The 1972 NCAA Final Four was held in Los Angeles, CA. In the NCAA Semifinals, FSU upset the heavily favored University of North Carolina Tar Heels, 79-75. The Tar Heels, coached by Dean Smith and led by future NBA stars Bob McAdoo and Bobby Jones were the Atlantic Coast Conference Champions.

In the NCAA Championship game, FSU lost to UCLA, 81-76.[1] The Bruins were led by future NBA stars Bill Walton and Henry Bibby. It was UCLA's closest championship game during UCLA's remarkable stretch of 10 NCAA championships under legendary Head Coach John Wooden.

Florida State was not a member of a conference for the first ten seasons Durham was head coach in Tallahassee. In 1976-77, Florida State joined the Metro Conference.

In 1977-78, only their second in the Metro, Durham led the Seminoles to the Conference title. As a result, FSU was one of 32 teams to earn a 1978 NCAA Tournament bid. It was Florida State's third trip the NCAA Tournament under Durham. Durham was also named Metro Conference Coach of the Year.

After the 1977-78 season, Durham was lured away from FSU to become the head coach at the University of Georgia. His overall record at FSU was 230-95 (.708). Over thirty years later, his .708 winning percentage is still the highest in Florida State history.

Durham remains the only coach to ever lead Florida State to the NCAA Final Four.

Georgia Bulldogs

Prior to the 1978-79 season, Durham was named head coach at the University of Georgia.

Before Durham arrived in Athens, Georgia had never been to either the NCAA or NIT Tournaments, never won an SEC regular season title and never won an SEC Tournament championship.

Durham immediately embarked on a remarkable transformation project that produced the most prolific era of Georgia basketball still to this date.

Durham's efforts produced virtual overnight success as from 1981 to 1991, he led Georgia to five NCAA Tournaments, four NIT Tournaments, the 1983 NCAA Final Four, the 1982 NIT Final Four, the 1983 SEC Tournament Championship and the 1990 SEC Championship. In that same span, Durham was named SEC Coach of the Year four times.

In 1980-81, only his third season at Georgia, Durham was voted his first of four SEC Coach of the Year awards. That season, Durham led Georgia to the school's first ever post-season tournament as the Bulldogs received an NIT bid. UGA also reached the 1981 SEC Tournament Championship Game behind the electric play of Dominique Wilkins, Terry Fair, Vern Fleming and James Banks.

In 1981-82, the Bulldogs advanced to the NIT Final Four by defeating Temple, Maryland and Virginia Tech. The Bulldogs lost to Purdue, 61-60, in the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York. Again, Wilkins, Fair, Fleming, and Banks led the Bulldogs.

In 1982-83, Durham led the Bulldogs to without question the greatest single season in Georgia basketball history. The Bulldogs won the school's first ever SEC Tournament championship.

As a result of the title, Georgia earned its first NCAA Tournament bid in school history on the way to a 24-10 record.

Durham again shocked the basketball world by leading the Bulldogs to the 1983 NCAA Final Four. Georgia became one of the few teams since the NCAA Tournament began in 1939 to reach the NCAA Final Four in its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

To reach the 1983 NCAA Final Four, Georgia played in the NCAA East Region in Syracuse, NY. This Georgia squad was another of Durham's patented formula of talent, intensity and defensive focus. As with his 1972 FSU team, Durham's squad was given little chance in the Tournament. The starters were Vern Fleming, Terry Fair, James Banks, Lamar Heard and Gerald Crosby with Richard Corhen, Donald Hartry, Derrick Floyd and Horace McMillan coming off the bench.

In the East Region Semifinals, Georgia upset the Big East Champion and #3 ranked St. John's University, 70-67. The Redmen were coached by Lou Carnesecca and led by Chris Mullin and Bill Wennington. In the East Region Finals, the Bulldogs upset defending NCAA champion North Carolina, 82-77. UNC, the champion of the ACC, was led by Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Brad Daugherty. UNC was coached by Dean Smith.

The 1983 NCAA Final Four was in Albuquerque, NM. The Bulldogs lost in the NCAA Semifinals to eventual champion North Carolina State, 67-60. The Wolfpack was coached by the late Jim Valvano and led by Derrick Wittenberg, Sidney Lowe, Thurl Bailey, and Lorenzo Charles.

In 1984-85, the Bulldogs returned to the NCAA Tournament finishing the season with a 22-9 record. In another milestone for Durham, Georgia defeated Kentucky in Lexington, 79-77. It was the first win for Georgia over Kentucky in Lexington since 1923. The Bulldogs were led by Joe Ward, Cedric Henderson, Gerald Crosby, Donald Hartry, Horace McMillan, and Richard Corhen.

In 1985-86, Durham was again named SEC Coach of the Year. In 1986-87, Durham was voted SEC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year as Georgia earned its third NCAA Tournament bid in five seasons behind the play of Willie Anderson, Chad Kessler, Derrick Kirce, Eric Burdette, Dennis Williams, and Patrick Hamilton.

In 1989-90, Durham led Georgia to the school's first ever SEC regular season Championship and another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Georgia outlasted LSU and Shaquille O'Neal to clinch the SEC title in a heart pounding game in Athens that was nationally televised. Durham was voted SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in ten seasons. The 20-9 Bulldogs were led by the late Alec Kessler, Litterial Green, Marshall Wilson, Antonio Harvey, and Neville Austin.

In 1990-91, Georgia advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in nine seasons behind the play of Litterial Green, Rod Cole, Jody Patton, Marshall Wilson, Antonio Harvey, and Neville Austin. In 1994-95, Durham finished his career at Georgia by leading the Bulldogs to their 12th post-season tournament appearance in his 17 seasons as head coach. He is the most successful coach in Georgia history with a record of 297-215.

Durham remains the only coach to ever lead Georgia to the NCAA Final Four.

Jacksonville Dolphins

In 1997, Durham came out of retirement at the age of 60 to try to help rebuild the struggling basketball program at Jacksonville University. JU is a private school in Jacksonville, FL, with an enrollment of less than 3,500 students.

In 1970, the Dolphins led by Artis Gilmore reached the NCAA Championship game before losing to UCLA. JU went to five NCAA Tournaments between 1970 and 1986. However, the program had since fallen on hard times.

Once again, Durham engineered a remarkable turnaround. The Dolphins quickly went from the doormat of the Atlantic Sun Conference to one of the top programs in the league. Durham's signature rugged defense set the tone.

Over his last five seasons, Jacksonville won 78 games, averaged 10 conference wins a season, and held opponents to an average of only 69.5 points per game. In that span, JU was 49-19 at home.

In 2000, Durham was named athletic director in addition to his basketball head coaching duties. He served in the dual roles from 2000 through 2004.

He coached at Jacksonville for eight seasons, retiring in 2005 as the most successful coach in Jacksonville history with 106 victories. His record at JU was 106-119.

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Florida State Seminoles (Independent/Metro 7) (1966–1978)
1966–67 Florida State 11-15
1967–68 Florida State 19-8 NCAA 1st Round
1968–69 Florida State 18-8
1969–70 Florida State 23-3
1970–71 Florida State 17-9
1971–72 Florida State 27-6 NCAA Runner Up
1972–73 Florida State 18-8
1973–74 Florida State 18-8
1974–75 Florida State 18-8
1975–76 Florida State 22-5
1976–77 Florida State 16-11 2-4 T-5th
1977–78 Florida State 23-6 11-1 1st NCAA 1st Round
Florida State: 230-95 13-5
Georgia Bulldogs (SEC) (1978–1995)
1978–79 Georgia 14-14 7-11 7th
1979–80 Georgia 14-13 7-11 T-6th
1980–81 Georgia 19-12 9-9 5th NIT 2nd Round
1981–82 Georgia 19-12 10-8 6th NIT Semifinals
1982–83 Georgia 24-10 9-9 T-3rd NCAA Final 4
1983–84 Georgia 17-13 8-10 T-7th NIT 1st Round
1984–85 Georgia 22-9 12-6 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1985–86 Georgia 17-13 9-9 T-5th NIT 2nd Round
1986–87 Georgia 18-12 10-8 T-3rd NCAA 1st Round
1987–88 Georgia 20-16 8-10 7th NIT 2nd Round
1988–89 Georgia 15-16 6-12 9th
1989–90 Georgia 20-9 13-5 1st NCAA 1st Round
1990–91 Georgia 17-13 9-9 6th NCAA 1st Round
1991–92 Georgia 15-14 7-9 4th[Eastern]
1992–93 Georgia 15-14 8-8 4th[Eastern] NIT 1st Round
1993–94 Georgia 14-16 7-9 4th[Eastern]
1994–95 Georgia 18-10 9-7 2nd[Eastern] NIT 1st Round
Georgia: 298-216 148-150
Jacksonville Dolphins (Sun Belt/Atlantic Sun) (1997–2005)
1997–98 Jacksonville 8-19 6-12 T-9th
1998–99 Jacksonville 12-15 7-9 6th
1999–00 Jacksonville 8-19 5-13 9th
2000–01 Jacksonville 18-10 11-7 T-3rd
2001–02 Jacksonville 18-12 12-6 T-4th
2002–03 Jacksonville 13-16 8-8 4th[South]
2003–04 Jacksonville 13-15 8-12 7th
2004–05 Jacksonville 16-13 11-9 4th
Jacksonville: 106-119 68-76
Total: 634-430

      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


In 1999, to honor Durham's contributions to Florida State University basketball as a player and head coach, FSU renamed its Most Valuable Player award the "Hugh Durham Most Valuable Player" award.

To honor Durham's achievements building successful basketball programs over five decades, the "Hugh Durham Coach of the Year" award goes to the top NCAA Division I mid-major coach at the conclusion of the each season.

Durham is the only coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball to lead two different schools to their first and only NCAA Final Four appearance in each school's basketball history. (Florida State - 1972 & Georgia - 1983).

Durham is one of only 11 NCAA Division I coaches to take two different teams to the NCAA Final Four.

Durham's career totals as an NCAA Division I head coach were 633 wins, eight NCAA tournament appearances, two NCAA Final Fours, seven NIT bids, one NIT Final Four, two SEC championships, one Metro Conference Championship, four SEC Coach of the Year awards and one Metro Conference Coach of the Year award.

Durham coached nine All-Americans, four Academic All-Americans, four first-round NBA draft picks and a pair of Olympians. Fifteen of his former players went on to play in the NBA and he had 31 players selected in the NBA draft.

Durham's first recruiting class at Florida State in 1966 contained Dave Cowens. After a prolific career at FSU, Cowens was drafted by the Boston Celtics. He was named NBA co-Rookie of the Year in 1971, 1973 NBA MVP, and led the Celtics to two NBA titles. Cowens is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and was also voted one of the NBA's 50 all-time greatest players in 1996.

Durham's first recruiting class at Georgia after the 1978-79 season included Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins played three seasons at UGA and went on to be one of the top 10 scorers in NBA history. While playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Wilkins was voted to the NBA All-Star game nine times and won the NBA Slam Dunk contest twice. He is also a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Other career notes as of the time of Durham's retirement in 2005:

See also


  1. ^ Brian Landman. "'72 Seminoles stand proud of their legacy". St. Petersburg Times. January 20, 2007. Retrieved on July 24, 2010.
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