WCU Men’s Basketball Coach Stepping Down
Larry Hunter announced that he is stepping down as the Western Carolina head men’s basketball coach with the completion of the 2017-18 season. Hunter, who just wrapped up his 13th season at the head of the Catamount program, was named the head coach of WCU men’s basketball in April, 2005.
“We are so very grateful and thank Larry for his hard work and dedication to our men’s basketball program during his career in Cullowhee,” said WCU Director of Athletics, Randy Eaton.
With over 700 career victories on his coaching résumé, Hunter’s 38-year head coaching career spanned three different universities with each stop featuring 12-plus years of service. He is just one of 40 NCAA men’s basketball coaches all-time to eclipse the 700-career win plateau, doing so this season in a convincing, 88-71, home win over Samford on Feb. 3, 2018. Hunter is one of just 29 head coaches on that list that spent at least 10 years at the NCAA Division I level.
Among active NCAA head coaches, Hunter currently ranks eighth in overall career victories with 702.
“Sometimes when you’ve been at one place for a number of years, it’s just time for new leadership, a new voice,” said Hunter in a statement on Sunday morning. “In the 13 years that I’ve been associated with Western Carolina University, I’ve seen a tremendous positive change at both the university and within the athletics department – and it’s been fun to be a part of some of that change. With regards to the men’s basketball program, I was brought here to add some stability and do things the right way. I feel during my time in Cullowhee, we’ve done just that. But, at this time, I feel that it’s time for some new team leadership.”
All told, Hunter’s 47-year collegiate coaching career has been spent between five different institutions including stops as an assistant or associate head coach at Marietta College (1971-73) and North Carolina State (2001-05), with head coaching positions held at Wittenberg (1976-89), his alma mater Ohio University (1989-2001), and Western Carolina (2005-18).
During his tenure in Cullowhee, Hunter guided Western Carolina to a pair of Southern Conference North Division Championships (2008-09, 2010-11), two appearances in the SoCon Basketball Championship game (2011-12, 2013-14), and took the Catamounts to a pair of postseason berths with the 2010 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament and the 2016 College Basketball Invitational (CBI). He also tallied WCU’s only 20-plus win season since moving to the NCAA Division I level, posting a 22-12 mark in the 2009-10 season.
In addition to ranking among the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 for 12-straight weeks in 2009-10, that same year, WCU appeared in the “others receiving votes” category in both the USA Today / ESPN Coaches’ poll (47th) and Associated Press Top 25 (51st) in December.
Hunter’s squads twice set a Ramsey Center record, winning 11 games at home during the 2008-09 season only to be eclipsed a year later with 14 home victories as a part of a 14-2 ledger. Between the two seasons, Hunter’s Catamounts recorded a 15-game home winning streak while also posting two of the top three Ramsey Center attendances in facility history – 6,024 vs. Appalachian State and 4,765 vs. College of Charleston during the 2009-10 season.
Hunter’s squads rewrote the school’s single-season record books for 3-pointers made, initially surpassing the school benchmark in his inaugural season in 2005-06 before eventually eclipsing that mark. Former Catamount sharp-shooter Jake Robinson broke the school’s career 3-pointers made record within Hunter’s offense.
Combined, Hunter won 193 games over his 13 seasons at the helm in Cullowhee, the second-most wins in the second-longest tenure in program history. Only Jim Gudger (1950-1969) held the position longer (19 years) and won more games (311).