Ray Mears

Ray Mears (1926-2007)

Teams coached: Wittenberg Tigers, Tennessee Volunteers
Wittenberg record^: 121-23 (.840)
Tennessee record: 278-112 (.713)
Overall record^: 399-135 (.747)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  3  (1967, 1976, 1977)
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen:  1  (1967)
  • NCAA Tournament Final Four:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  2  (1969, 1971)
  • SEC Regular Season Champion:  3  (1967, 1972, 1977)
  • OAC (Div II) Regular Season Champion:  3  (1959, 1960, 1961)
  • OAC (Div II) Tournament Champion:  3  (1960, 1961, 1962)
  • NCAA Division II National Championships:  1  (1961)   
  • NCAA Division II Tournament Appearances:  3  (1959, 1961, 1962)
  • NCAA Division II Tournament Final Four:  1  (1961)

Awards:

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1962-1977 Tennessee
1956-1962 Wittenberg

Ray Mears Facts

  • Ray Mears
  • Born November 8, 1926
  • Died June 11, 2007
  • Hometown: Dover, Ohio
  • Alma Mater: Miami University (BA, 1949) / Kent State University (MA)
  • The Ohio-native attended Miami University (OH), where he walked on to the basketball team coached by Blue Foster
  • Started his coaching career at Cadiz HS (OH), serving as head basketball coach and assistant football coach for one year
    • Served in the United States Army from 1950-52
  • Returned to coaching in 1952, spending the next four years as the head coach at West Tech HS in Cleveland
  • Hired as the head coach at Division II (then College Division) Wittenberg in 1956, coaching the Tigers for six seasons
  • Took his first coaching job outside of his home state in 1962 when he was hired to lead the Tennessee Volunteers of the SEC
    • Won 278 (71%) games during his 15-year tenure, winning three SEC titles and appearing in the postseason seven times
      • Reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 1967 and had two more NCAAT appearances (1976 and 1977)
      • Also appeared in the NIT twice and in both iterations of the short-lived CCAT/NCIT (1974 and 1975)
    • Coached 12 All-Americans at UT, including Hall of Famer Bernard King (3x SEC POY) & longtime NBA GM Ernie Grunfeld
    • After winning the SEC and going 22-6 in 1976-77, Mears sat out the 1977-78 while battling depression
      • Team was coached in the interim by assistant Cliff Wettig; Mears would officially retire in 1978, citing health issues
    • Among other things, Mears is credited with making the song “Rocky Top” the popular UT staple it is today
  • Mears served as the athletic director at the University of Tennessee at Martin from 1980-1989
  • After several years of declining health, Mears passed away at the age of 80 in June 2007
    • He was survived by his wife, Dana, and three sons, Steve, Mike and Matt

Ray Mears Coaching Tree

  • Tommy Bartlett (Florida)
  • Rick Byrd (Belmont, Lincoln Memorial, Maryville)
  • Eldon Miller (Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Western Michigan, Wittenberg)
  • Bill Musselman (South Alabama, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota, Ashland)
  • Cliff Wettig (Tennessee)

 

^ overall record includes head coaching positions at both the NCAA Division I and Division II (f/k/a College Division) levels