Gary Colson

Gary Colson (1934-2023)

Teams coached: Valdosta State Blazers, Pepperdine Waves, New Mexico Lobos, Fresno State Bulldogs
Valdosta State record: 176-73 (.707)
Pepperdine record: 153-137 (.528)
New Mexico record: 146-106 (.579)
Fresno State record: 76-73 (.510)
Overall record^: 551-389 (.586)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  2  (1976, 1979)
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen: (1976)
  • NCAA Tournament Final Four:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  6  (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994)
  • WCC Regular Season Champion:  1  (1976)
  • GIAC (NAIA) Regular Season Champion: (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968)
  • NAIA Tournament Appearances:  6  (1967, 1968)


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1990-1995 Fresno State
1988-1990 California (asst)
1980-1988 New Mexico
1968-1979 Pepperdine
1958-1968 Valdosta State

Gary Colson Facts

  • Gary Colson
  • Born April 30, 1934
  • Died November 3, 2023
  • Hometown: Logansport, Indiana
  • Alma Mater: David Lipscomb College (BA, 1956)
  • Was a three-sport athlete at Lipscomb, running track and playing both basketball and baseball
    • Played basketball for head coaches Elvin Sherrill and Charles Morris; twice earned all-conference honors
    • Later inducted into the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame (class of 1998)
  • Started coaching in 1958, spending ten seasons as the head coach at Valdosta State in Georgia
    • Went 176-73 during his tenure with the then-NAIA program
    • Won seven GIAC regular season titles and went to the NAIA Tournament twice
    • Inducted into the Valdosta State Hall of Fame in 1998
  • Moved up to the Division I ranks in 1968, serving as the head coach at Pepperdine for 11 seasons
    • Won 153 games at Pepperdine, reaching the NCAA Tournament twice, including a trip to the 1976 Sweet Sixteen
  • Took over the reigns at New Mexico in 1980, a program that had been rocked by a major gambling/academic scandal
    • Went 146-106 over eight seasons at New Mexico and reached five NITs but failed to get to the NCAA Tournament
    • Coached several future NBA players at UNM, including 3x NBA champion Luc Longley
    • Resigned as the Lobos’ head coach in 1988 at the request of new AD John Koenig
  • Spent the next two seasons as an assistant coach under Lou Campanelli at California
  • Returned to head coaching in 1990, taking over the Fresno State program
    • Retired from coaching in 1995 after five seasons with the Bulldogs, going 76-73 overall
  • Was the assistant athletic director at UC Santa Barbara for several years
  • Hired in 2002 as assistant to the President of Basketball Ops – longtime friend Jerry West – with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies
  • After retiring, Colson taught basketball at UCSB, put on clinics for local children and did some scouting for the NBA
  • Colson passed away in early November 2023 at the age of 89

Gary Colson Coaching Tree

  • Tony Fuller (Pepperdine, San Diego State)
  • Greg Graham (Boise State, Western New Mexico)
  • Dennis Johnson (Austin Toros, Florida Flame, Los Angeles Clippers, CBA)
  • Fred Overton (Murray State)
  • Jeff Reinert (Utah Valley)
  • Larry Shyatt (Wyoming, Clemson)
  • Sonny Smith (VCU, Auburn, East Tennessee State)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at both the NCAA Division I and NAIA levels