Gene Bartow dies of cancer; former UCLA basketball coach was 81
Gene Bartow, the man who replaced the legendary John Wooden as UCLA's basketball coach, died at his home in Birmingham on Tuesday evening after a nearly two-year battle with stomach cancer, a University of Alabama Birmingham spokesman confirmed. He was 81.
Bartow took over for Wooden at in 1975 and led the Bruins to the Final Four, but his 52-9 record in two seasons wasn't good enough for many UCLA fans.
Bartow left UCLA to start Alabama Birmingham's program in 1978. He had a record of 340-203 there, coaching through the 1995-96 season before turning over the program to his son, Murry.
“To begin an athletic program from the ground up, UAB had to find a motivating force without parallel,” Alabama Birmingham President Carol Garrison said in a statement. “Gene Bartow certainly was that person. He was a pioneer and passionate believer and leader in UAB athletics.”
Overall, Bartow won 647 games in 34 seasons as a college coach at Central Missouri, Valparaiso, Memphis, Illinois, UCLA and Alabama Birmingham. His Memphis team lost to Wooden's Bruins in the 1973 NCAA championship game.
At the time of his death, Bartow was president of Hoops, LP, the company that owns the Memphis Grizzlies and the FedEx Forum.
He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.