Men’s basketball coach Mel Gibson ushered UNCW’s hoops program into NCAA Division I play and amassed a 194-180 record over 14 seasons from 1973-86.
As a player, Gibson led Western Carolina to the NAIA national championship game in 1963. He was named an NAIA All-American and later helped Team USA win a gold medal at the 1963 Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Gibson was the No. 2 draft choice of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1963 and played one season of professional basketball before turning his attention to coaching. He posted a 57-34 record as the head coach at Baptist College in Charleston, S.C., before coming to UNCW as an assistant coach in 1972 and then taking over the head chair in 1973.
During Gibson’s tenure, the Seahawks built a solid foundation for their success on the NCAA Division I level. His first four D-I teams carved out a solid 73-35 record, with the 1978, 1979 and 1980 clubs racking up 19 victories apiece. No other squad reached that number until the 1997-98 unit went 20-11.