CONWAY, S.C. - Coastal Carolina University has hired Cliff Ellis to take over as head coach of its men's basketball program and signed him to a five-year contract, CCU President David DeCenzo and Athletics Director Warren "Moose" Koegel announced today. He will be the sixth coach in Coastal history, succeeding Buzz Peterson, who has taken the Director of Player Personnel position with the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats after two years at Coastal.
The 61-year-old Ellis has been a successful coach throughout his career, amassing a Division I record of 534-337 (.613) record and 612-349 (.637) as a head coach overall, ranking him 47th in nation in all-time Division I wins prior to the 2006-07 season and will re-enter the game as the 12th winningest active Division I coach by victories. He is also just one of 10 coaches in NCAA Division I history to post 100 or more wins at three separate schools and has been named conference Coach of the Year five times in his career.
Most recently, Ellis has worked as a television broadcast analyst, doing numerous national and regional games including Big South Conference and Coastal Carolina games during his three years. Prior to that, he spent 10 years (1994-2004) as the head coach at Auburn, posting a 186-125 (.598) record as head coach. During his time, after leading the Tigers to a school record 29-4 mark, including 14-2 in the SEC to win the league title and advanced the team to the NCAA Championship as a No. 1 seed, eventually advancing to the Sweet 16. He was the 1999 Southeastern Conference and National Coach of the Year by six difference organizations, including the John and Nellie Wooden and Associated Press awards, Ellis also led Auburn to the 2000 NCAA Tournament after a 24-10 record overall, becoming a finalist for National Coach of the Year. He also garnered 1995 SEC Coach of the Year honors in his first year at Auburn after taking the Tigers to a 16-13 record overall and 7-9 in the league, earning a berth in the NIT.
Ellis coached at Clemson from 1984-1994, putting together a 177-128 (.580) record in his tenure. While at Clemson, Ellis led the Tigers to the 1990 Atlantic Coast Conference title, the only in the school's history, with a 24-8 overall record, a 10-4 ACC mark and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. For his efforts, he earned ACC and NABC and US Basketball Writers District III Coach of the Year honors. He had previously garnered the ACC and District Coach of the Year awards in 1987 after pacing the Tigers to 25-6 mark, the best in school history, a runner-up finish in the ACC and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Ellis started his Division I head coaching career at South Alabama from 1975-1984, where he developed the program into a nationally-recognized team in his nine years. He had a 171-84 (.671) record, the highest winning percentage in USA history and led the Jaguars to three Sun Belt Conference Championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances, while earning one Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year award. He led the Jaguars to a top 10 national ranking during his tenure. During his time at USA, he also served as the Athletic Director and was inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 for the work he did with the Jaguars' basketball program.
He started his collegiate head coaching career at Cumberland University, where he also served as Athletic Director from 1973-1975. In his three years, he led Cumberland to a 78-12 (.867) record, including two league championships. Ellis started his career in the high school ranks, coaching at Ocala Vanguard and Niceville High Schools and Ruckel Junior High School in his first four years.
Ellis got his bachelors degree in physical education from Florida State in 1968 and earned his masters degree, also in physical education, from Middle Tennessee State in 1972. He has also published three books and two videos on basketball coaching in his career.
Ellis is married to the former Carolyn Ratzlaff and they have three children, Chryssa Rutland, Clay and Anna Catherine, and two grandchildren, Hannah Grace and Ellis Rutland.