Branch McCracken

Branch McCracken (1908-1970)

Teams coached: Ball State Cardinals, Indiana Hoosiers
Ball State record^: 86-57 (.601)
Indiana record: 364-174 (.677)
Overall record^: 450-231 (.661)

Career Accomplishments:


  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted 1960)
  • National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted 2006)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1946-1965 Indiana
1938-1943 Indiana
1930-1938 Ball State

Branch McCracken Facts

  • Emmett B. McCracken
  • Born June 9, 1908
  • Died June 4, 1970
  • Hometown: Monrovia, Indiana
  • Alma Mater: Indiana University (BA, 1930)
  • Played for the hometown Indiana Hoosiers, earning the nickname “Big Bear” due to his size and scowl; played for HOF coach Everett Dean
    • Led the Hoosiers in scoring all three years he played and set a Big Ten scoring record as a senior, earning consensus All-America honors
    • Briefly played pro ball on some Midwestern barnstorming teams, including the Indianapolis Kautskys (alongside John Wooden) and the Oshkosh All-Stars (alongside Bud Foster)
  • Became the Ball State Cardinals’ head coach in 1930 when the program was Independent; went 86-57 in eight seasons
  • Returned to his alma mater IU in 1938 to succeed Dean as the Hoosiers’ head coach; his first year was also the first year for the NCAA Tournament
    • Won two NCAA National Championships at IU, first in 1940 and then again in 1953, and his teams won four Big Ten regular season titles
    • Part of McCracken’s legacy was helping breakdown the color barriers in college basketball; he recruited and coached Bill Garrett, who became the first African-American player in Big Ten history in 1948
    • McCracken took a break from coaching for three years during World War II and served as a lieutenant in the US Navy
    • In 1960, violations from the Indiana football program caused all IU athletic programs to be barred from postseason play – this made McCracken’s recruiting job much more difficult and the on-court results would eventually reflect that
  • McCracken retired from coaching in 1965; the court at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington is named Branch McCracken Court in his honor when the stadium opened in 1971

Branch McCracken Coaching Tree

  • Curly Armstrong (Fort Wayne Pistons)
  • Bobby “Slick” Leonard (Indiana Pacers, Baltimore Bullets)
  • Jay McCreary (LSU, DePauw)
  • Frank Radovich (Georgia Southern)
  • Herm Schaefer (Indianapolis Olympians)
  • Lou Watson (Indiana)


^ overall record includes games coached at both the NCAA Division I and NCAA Independent levels; Ball State was not a Division I program until 1970