Head Coach Gordie James Announces His Retirement

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Head Coach Gordie James of the Willamette University men's basketball team has announced his retirement following the conclusion of his 22nd season as the leader of Bearcat Hoop. James will remain on the Willamette Athletics staff through the end of the current semester.

James achieved a record of 357-230 (.608) during his 22 years with the Bearcats. He led Willamette to 16 winning seasons, including six Northwest Conference titles. The 1992-93 Willamette team won the NAIA Division II National Championship with a 29-4 overall record, matching WU's 1938-39 team (29-6) for the most wins in school history. The 1992-93 title remains Willamette's only varsity team national championship.

James was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1992-93. He was selected Northwest Conference Coach of the Year four times. Willamette has competed in NCAA Division III since the 1998-99 season.

His first team at Willamette in 1987-88 went undefeated (10-0) in the NWC. It was the first team to go undefeated in the conference since the College of Idaho (no longer a member) went 15-0 in 1954-55.

"It has been such a privilege to teach, coach, and mentor such a talented, committed, inquisitive, industrious, and conscientious group of students and players," James said. "Everyday has been a joy and challenge. But now it is time to pursue new goals and experience untried endeavors.

"I feel most fortunate to have engaged in my passion of teaching and coaching for 44 years at both the high school and collegiate level," he added. "There is such a multitude of fond memories and precious moments.

"I am most appreciative of the opportunities Willamette University has provided and will forever be a Bearcat," James said.

Prior to becoming the head coach at Willamette, James had a successful career as a high school head coach in California and Oregon. His high school coaching record was 340-129 (.725). His overall coaching record, including 44 years at the high school and collegiate levels, was 697-359 (.660).

James was so involved with teaching and coaching the game of basketball that his influence extends beyond Cone Field House, the classroom and the Willamette campus. His name is synonymous with "basketball" in Salem and throughout Oregon. His summer Pro Classic Hoop Camp has helped well over 15,000 young boys and girls develop fundamental basketball skills as well as a game plan for successful lives.

In 1994, he was named head coach of the Japanese National Team. He led Japan to a bronze medal in the Asian Olympics.

"There are few coaches in any sport who have contributed more than Gordie James has contributed to the sport of basketball," said Willamette Director of Athletics Mark Majeski. "His passion for teaching is unmatched, and those around Gordie benefited from exposure to his methods, his compassion for students and his work ethic.

"Gordie's commitment to teaching fundamentals helped his teams compete at a level above their physical talent. I have not seen any basketball coach get more out of his players than Gordie did," Majeski said. "He is a master team-builder. Every player knew his role on the team and worked hard to make the team better.

"Gordie's legacy reaches beyond the gym, the Willamette campus or the state of Oregon," Majeski continued. "His influence and passion lives within each of his former players across the globe. We will miss Gordie's presence for all that he brought to Willamette, on and off of the court. His shoes will never be filled. Gordie leaves an indelible imprint on Willamette that we can only hope to carry forward."

Following his outstanding career, James looks forward to spending additional time with his wife, Peggy, three grown children, Ken, Don and Cheri, and his eight grandchildren.

Head Coach Gordie James is retiring after earning an overall record of 357-230 (.608) in 22 seasons with the Bearcats.

Head Coach Gordie James is retiring after earning an overall record of 357-230 (.608) in 22 seasons with the Bearcats.

Gordie James led Willamette to the NAIA Division II National Championship in 1992-93.

Gordie James led Willamette to the NAIA Division II National Championship in 1992-93.