Charlotte 49ers head coach Bobby Lutz, already the 49ers all-time winningest coach, is just one win away from his 200th as Charlotte's head coach. Now, in his 12th year, he passes icon Jeff Mullins for the longest running tenure of any 49ers basketball mentor. And what a career it has been. Lutz has won more games, posted more 20-win seasons and advanced to more NCAA Tournaments than any previous coach in school history.
He signed a five-year contract in March, 2008 and has since added another year extension that will carry him through the 2013-14 season.
Along the way, Lutz has earned his share of accolades and raves from the college basketball community for his intensity, game preparation, masterful schemes and loyalty. In so doing he has made a profound impact on the Charlotte 49ers basketball program.
In 11 years as head coach, the 49ers have been to eight post-season tournaments, including five NCAA Tournaments and posted five 20-win seasons. Charlotte has won three conference championships including two tourney titles and one regular-season crown. Charlotte has finished in the top four of its league (A-10; C-USA) in four of the last six years. The individual achievements that have accompanied the team success include a USA Basketball U-21 World Championship Team member, a National Freshman of the Year, an Academic all-America, an NBA Lottery Pick, a Conference USA Player of the Year, a two-time Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, 10 first-team all-conference selections and seven all-conference tournament choices. The 2007-08 recruiting class was ranked as high as 13th by HoopScoop, the highest ranking ever for a 49ers' incoming class.
Lutz has completely changed the landscape on which the 49ers recruit, regularly attracting top players and nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including newcomer Chris Braswell -- a top 60 recruit.
In addition, Lutz, who owns four degrees, is intelligent and loyal. He tutors players, stresses academic importance and takes pride in each graduate's success. In fact, 12 seniors over the past four seasons have graduated, including former Chicago Bull Eddie Basden, three-time first team all-conference choice Curtis Withers, two-time team MVP Leemire Goldwire and current Harlem Globetrotter Charlie Coley, III.
On top of all that, Lutz is one of the good guys in the business.
He is on the board of charlotte's First Tee program. He's a two-time participant in the the Defense Department's [quote]Operation Hardwood - Hoops With Troops[quote] program (August, 2005; June, 2006) in which NCAA coaches visited Kuwait to coach troops in week-long tournaments. He served as Honorary Chair of the Leukemia and Lymphona Society's Man and Woman of the Year Campaign in 2007 and 2008 and he is currently serving as an ambassador for Coaches' Curing Kids' Cancer. He participated in NASCAR's Elliott Sadler's 2004 [quote]Hoops For Hope[quote] Charity Basketball Game. He was named a Carolinas' Father of the Year by the National Father's Day Council in 2002 and has been given [quote]The Key to the City[quote] of Harrisburg, N.C., where he and his family reside. He has served as Grand Marshall of the small town's 4th of July Parade and is still regarded as a [quote]Hometown Hero[quote] in the annual parade. He has a basketball tournament named in his honor, by his former school: Pfeiffer University, where he is an inductee into the Athletic Hall of Fame. He is a member of Pfeiffer's Board of Trustees. He was inducted into UNC Charlotte's Alumni Hall of Fame in 2002.
On the court, Lutz's 49ers teams have amassed a 199-146 record, averaging over 18 wins per season. He attracted the 2001 National Freshman of the Year (Rodney White - ESPN.com and All-Star Sports) as well as four Top 20 recruiting classes (1999 - 19th; 2000 - 15th; 2002 - 19th; 2007 - 13th).
Last year, even with a team decimated by injuries, the 49ers managed to defeat three teams bound for the NCAA Tournament: #16 ranked Xavier, at-large choice Dayton and SEC Champion Mississippi State.
In 2007-08, the 49ers went 20-14 and advanced to the NIT, marking the program's fifth 20-win season and eighth post-season appearance under Lutz. Charlotte finished tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 and reached the A-10 Championship semifinals.
In 2006-07, the 49ers went 14-16 in their second season in the Atlantic 10, despite the high-scoring efforts of all-A-10 choice De'Angelo Alexander, who finished fourth in the league in scoring. In 2005-06, the 49ers debuted in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a runner-up finish, a 19-13 slate and a post-season appearance in the NIT, behind the strength of double-double man Curtis Withers and scoring phenom Alexander. The NIT bid was the 49ers seventh post-season trip in Lutz's first eight seasons.
In 2004-05, Lutz notched his fourth 20-win season (21-8) and earned the school's 11th NCAA Tournament appearance, the school-record fifth that he has overseen. He became the first coach in school history to go to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments twice in his career. The 49ers finished as Conference USA runners-up with a 12-4 league mark, led by C-USA Player of the Year Eddie Basden and fellow first-teamer Withers. The season was highlighted by a perfect 7-0 record in February that led the 49ers back into the national rankings for four straight weeks, peaking at #18 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. The 49ers also posted an unbeaten league record in home games (8-0). Lutz finished as one of 10 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. In addition, he picked up his 300th career coaching victory.
In 2003-04, Lutz picked up his third 20-win season, his school-record 4th NCAA Tournament trip and led the 49ers to a share of their first C-USA regular-season title with a 12-4 record (the 49ers second-best league record since joining C-USA). For his efforts, Lutz was named Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year by Basketball Times and Conference USA Coach of the Year by Dick Vitale. He won his 100th game as the 49ers head coach, joining only Jeff Mullins as 100-win coaches for the 49ers. He also landed the 49ers first-ever Top 10 wins in true road games, winning at #7/#7 Syracuse and at #8/#7 Cincinnati.
Determined to rebound after the 2003 season, he attacked the 2003-04 season with a renewed vigor. He made greater demands of himself, his staff and his players. Mostly, he demanded results. And, beginning with the win over Syracuse in which the 49ers became the first team in NCAA history to defeat the defending national champions in the champs' home opener, results are just what the 49ers produced. They rode through a school-record 10 true road wins, posted a first-ever victory at Cincinnati and three Top 10 wins. They earned a share of the program's first-ever C-USA regular-season crown and earned the school's 10th NCAA Tournament bid.
In 2001-02, Lutz claimed career coaching win #250 with a victory over #25 Marquette. With a schedule strength of 15 that included eight games against Top 25 RPI teams and seven wins vs. the Top 100 RPI, the 49ers earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, landing a #9 seed in the program's ninth NCAA appearance. Three of those bids belonged to Lutz-coached teams, matching Mullins (1988; 1992; 1995) for most NCAA bids for a 49er coach. With the 49ers second straight bid, in 2001, Lutz joined Melvin Watkins (1997; 1998) as the only 49er coaches to post back-to-back NCAA Tournament seasons. The season included a 6-5 record against the 49ers toughest non-conference schedule, which was ranked 18th by Basketball Times, and an 11-5 record within Conference USA, with key wins over Marquette and Memphis as well as road wins at South Florida and Houston. Two late home wins secured the 49ers' bye in the C-USA Tournament, where the 49ers advanced to the semifinals for the sixth straight year.
In 2000-01, Lutz led the 49ers back into the national rankings. Led by National Freshman of the Year (ESPN.com and All-Star Sports) Rodney White, the 49ers raced to a 6-1 start that included double-digit victories over NC State, South Carolina and Miami. The 49ers would put together a late-season rally, as well, to capture the Conference USA Tournament Championship and the 49ers fourth NCAA bid in the last five years. With a top 20 recruiting class, the 49ers finished the season with a 22-11 record, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in its last four trips. White was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year to complement his national awards.
The previous year, the 49ers went 17-16 and earned a berth in the NIT despite a season of adversity that began with the death of forward Charles Hayward (leukemia), included an emergency appendectomy for star guard Diego Guevara and concluded with a groin pull for team MVP Tremaine Gardiner in the C-USA Tournament that sidelined him for most of semifinal matchup with DePaul and all of the NIT showdown at Mississippi.
In his first season at the helm, Lutz made a quick impression by working some coaching magic. With a team picked to finish fifth in the American Division of Conference USA, Lutz posted a 20-win season, captured the C-USA Tournament Championship and earned the school's third straight NCAA berth. The 49ers finished the season ranked in the final AP poll (#24) and earned the program's best-ever NCAA Tournament seed at #5.
Lutz became the third first-year coach in school history to notch a 20-win season and Lutz' initial 23-11 campaign was highlighted by a program-best home win over #3 Cincinnati, 13 wins over 1998 post-season participants and an incredible run of four wins in four days, over three of the top four seeds, to win the Conference USA Championship.
In addition to the C-USA crown and the trip to the NCAA second round, Lutz was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year by The Birmingham News.
Charlotte Director of Athletics Judy Rose recommended the hiring of Lutz as the program's eighth head men's basketball coach to the University's Board of Trustees, April 9, 1998. Lutz replaced Melvin Watkins, who resigned March 31, 1998, after two seasons. In 2002, Lutz signed a six-year contract extension and in 2003, he added another year. In March, 2008, he signed a five-year deal and then added a one-year extension that carries him through 2013-14.
Lutz' hiring was a dream come true for the 1980 UNC Charlotte grad and three-year 49er assistant.
[quote]This position remains a labor of love for me,[quote] he said. [quote]People who know me know I am relentless in my pursuit, be it recruiting, scheduling, game preparation and development of players. My staff and I will provide 49er basketball fans and our students a well-prepared, entertaining and hard-working team.[quote]
Lutz joined his alma mater's basketball staff as an assistant coach to Jeff Mullins in 1995 for the program's first season in C-USA. When Watkins was named head coach in April, 1996, he retained Lutz as an assistant.
Lutz, who turned 51 on April 4, 2009 said, [quote]This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. (In 1995) when I joined Jeff Mullins' staff, my goal was what it has always been, that when the time came, I wanted to be considered for the 49ers' basketball job. First, I want to say how proud I am to be part of the 49er basketball coaching family. Second, I want to thank the administration, namely Judy Rose, for having the confidence in choosing me to lead this program to even greater heights.
[quote]I am extremely grateful, as well, to Jeff and Melvin for providing me the opportunity to prove that I can make a difference as their primary assistant coach at a major NCAA Division I program. Each made a lasting impression on me and 49er basketball.[quote]
The 49ers amassed a record of 56-35 during Lutz' three seasons as an assistant, with records of 22-9 and 20-11 and back-to-back NCAA berths in the final two.
The author of an ultra-successful career as head coach and athletics director at Pfeiffer University in rural Misenheimer, N.C., Lutz produced a 181-91 record from 1986-95, including six straight NAIA Tournament berths, three [quote]Final Four[quote] appearances, one [quote]Final Eight[quote] and one [quote]Sweet 16[quote]. From 1990-95, his teams had an amazing .785 winning percentage (153-42). He developed 10 NAIA All-Americans and sent six players on to professional playing careers in Europe and the NBA, including all-time leading scorer Tony Smith ('92) and former L.A. Laker Antonio Harvey ('93). The Falcons played in one NAIA Tournament prior to Lutz's reign. During it, Pfeiffer was one of the nation's Top 10 programs of the 1990s.
He was named head coach at Gardner-Webb University in March, 1995. He left Gardner-Webb to join Mullins' staff two months later. [quote]I told (Gardner-Webb's) administration, the only position I would leave for is one with UNC Charlotte. They
were good to me and allowed me to pursue my lifeplan.[quote]
Lutz graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1980 with [quote]High Honors[quote], a B.A. degree in Economics and Psychology and a 3.82 G.P.A. He was a charter member of the UNC Charlotte Honor Society. Lutz holds a Master's degree from Clemson University (Education in Administration and Supervision, 1986) and Winthrop University (Arts in Teaching Secondary Social Studies, 1985) achieving a perfect 4.0 G.P.A. in both programs.
After a playing career at Bandys (Catawba, N.C.) High (1976), where he was class valedictorian, Lutz entered UNC Charlotte and enjoyed the 49ers run to the 1977 NCAA Final Four as a student after failing to make the team as a walk-on. He was an instructor in Economics and Psychology labs at his alma mater, 1979-80. He coached and taught Social Studies at Parkwood (Monroe, N.C.) High, 1982-83; and Bunker Hill (Claremont, N.C.) High, 1983-84.
In 1984, Lutz joined Cliff Ellis' staff at Clemson as an assistant for two years. He was named head coach at Pfeiffer prior the 1986-87 campaign. Of his 37 recruited student-athletes at Pfeiffer, 30 graduated during his career.
Lutz and his wife, Janet, are the parents of Natalie, 20, who is a senior at the University of Florida and Christine, 18. The Lutz family lives in Harrisburg.