Babe McCarthy

Babe McCarthy (1923-1975)

Teams coached: Mississippi State Bulldogs, George Washington Colonials, New Orleans Buccaneers, Memphis Pros, Dallas Chaparrals, Kentucky Colonels
Mississippi State record: 169-85 (.665)
George Washington record: 6-18 (.250)
Overall record^: 175-103 (.629)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  1  (1963)
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen:  1  (1963)
  • NCAA Tournament Final Four:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  0
  • SEC Regular Season Champion:  4  (1959, 1961, 1962, 1963)


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1973-1974 Kentucky Colonels
1972-1973 Dallas Chaparrals
1970-1972 Memphis Pros
1967-1970 New Orleans Buccaneers
1966-1967 George Washington
1955-1965 Mississippi State

Babe McCarthy Facts

  • James Harrison McCarthy
  • Born October 1, 1923
  • Died March 17, 1975
  • Hometown: Baldwyn, Mississippi
  • Alma Mater: Mississippi State University (BA)
  • Played basketball at Tupelo Junior HS (MS) then attended Mississippi State, but did not play for the Bulldogs
  • Served in the US Air Force after college and then returned to Baldwyn to coach at both Baldwyn HS and Tupelo Junior HS
    • Recalled to the Air Force during the Korean War, coaching some basketball in Memphis, TN
  • Hired in 1955 to be the head men’s basketball coach at alma mater Mississippi State
    • Went 169-85 in ten seasons at the helm, improving the Bulldogs from middling program to a four-time SEC champion
    • Perhaps best remembered for fighting against racism and segregation in college basketball in the South
      • McCarthy was forced to decline three NCAA Tournament bids by Mississippi state legislators who did not want the team to compete in an event in which black athletes would also be appearing
      • In 1963, McCarthy – backed by the athletic director, MSU President Dean W. Colvard and the Mississippi College Board – accepted an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and literally snuck the team off campus to Nashville to catch a flight to East Lansing, MI to play in the event
        • Sheriffs were headed to Starkville to serve the team with a temporary injunction barring them from leaving
        • The Bulldogs lost to eventual national champion Loyola (IL), a team that started four black players
    • Following the 1963 NCAA appearance, McCarthy’s teams finished below .500 for two straight years and he resigned
  • Spent one year as the head coach at George Washington (6-18 overall) before making the jump up to the professional ABA
    • Coached four different ABA teams over the course of the next seven years, earning ABA COY honors in 1974
    • Reached the ABA Playoffs four times, finishing as runner-up in 1968 (lost to the Pittsburgh Pipers in 7 games)
  • Inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1974
  • Passed away in 1975 at the age of 51 as a result of colon cancer
    • Survived by his two sons, his sister and his brother and two sons
  • The former MSU basketball arena, Mississippi State Gymnasium, was renamed McCarthy Gymnasium

Babe McCarthy Coaching Tree

  • Larry Brown (SMU, Kansas, UCLA, various NBA/ABA teams)
  • Kermit Davis, Sr. (Mississippi State)
  • Joe Dan Gold (Mercer, Paducah JC, Mississippi State)
  • Wayne Dobbs (Vanderbilt, George Washington)
  • Doug Moe (Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs)
  • Skeeter Swift (Liberty)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I level only