Denny Crum, who won two NCAA Championships while serving as the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball coach for 30 years (1971-2001), passed away at his home Tuesday, May 9. He was 86.
He directed Louisville to the 1980 and the 1986 NCAA Championships, ranking him as one of only 14 coaches in NCAA history to win two or more titles. Six times he guided the Cardinals into the NCAA Final Four, including four times in the decade of the ’80s. Only five coaches all-time coached more Final Four teams than Crum.
“The University of Louisville, our community and college basketball fans everywhere have lost a legend in Coach Denny Crum,” said UofL President Kim Schatzel. “Whether he was leading his beloved Cardinal teams, representing the university with alumni and friends or supporting the many community organizations that counted on his generous spirit and enthusiasm, Coach Crum left a legacy that is unmatched. He will be remembered not only for the many wins and championships, but also for his calm demeanor, warm sense of humor and deep love for his adopted hometown and its people. Our lives are better for having known him. Our hearts go out to Susan and the entire Crum family.”
The man admirably labeled “Cool Hand Luke” by former commentator Al McGuire was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on May 9, 1994.
Crum guided the Cardinals to 23 NCAA Tournament appearances, 10th-most by a coach all-time. Crum’s teams regularly faced one of the nation’s toughest schedules and he amassed a 675-295 career coaching record, including an impressive 42-22 NCAA Tournament mark. Three of his squads participated in the NIT, reaching the NIT semifinals in 1985. The Cardinals captured or shared 12 Metro Conference regular season titles and 11 post-season tournament championships under Crum’s guidance. Crum engineered UofL to 20 or more victories in 21 of his 30 seasons.
After his retirement following the 2000-01 season, Crum continued to work as a special assistant to the UofL president for several years. The KFC Yum! Center court has been named in his honor. Since 2001, The Denny Crum Scholarship Foundation and the Denny Crum Scholarship Fund at UofL have awarded over a million dollars benefiting over 425 students. The San Fernando, Calif., native made Louisville his home and has lent countless hours of his time for charitable causes throughout the community for over 50 years.
A new residence hall on the UofL campus was recently named in his honor. Denny Crum Hall made possible by L&N Federal Credit Union opened in the fall 2022 semester and houses a mixture of student-athletes and non-student athletes. Men’s and women’s basketball and women’s lacrosse student-athletes – who each train in the adjoining facility, live in the residence hall.
Free tickets can now be claimed for the University of Louisville’s public Celebration of Life in honor of legendary basketball coach Denny Crum on Monday, May 15 at the KFC Yum! Center. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the Celebration of Life begins at 7 p.m.
Those who wish to attend may claim free tickets at the following link: https://uofl.me/3pBL8gY