Denny Crum, Hall of Fame Louisville basketball coach, dies at 86

Denny Crum, the coach who built the University of Louisville into a national powerhouse in men’s basketball, died in his home Tuesday morning. He was 86.

Crum spent 30 years as the head coach at Louisville and won two national championships, one in 1980 and another in 1986.

In all, Crum coached the Cardinals to six Final Fours (1972, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1986), won 15 regular season conference championships, 11 Metro Conference tournament titles and made 23 NCAA tournament appearances during his Hall of Fame coaching career. He also was named college basketball’s National Coach of the Year three times.

Louisville coach Denny Crum yells from the sideline during the first half of the NCAA semifinal game between Louisville and LSU at Reunion Arena, Saturday, March 29, 1986, Dallas, Tex. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Crum, who was known as “Cool Hand Luke” for his calm courtside demeanor, went 43-23 in NCAA tournament play and only John Wooden, Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski had more Final Four appearances than Crum at the time of his retirement in 2001.

Crum played and coached for Wooden at UCLA before landing at Louisville in 1971. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Crum retired with an all-time 675-295 record and is one of 14 college coaches to win at least two national titles. He was the second-fastest coach to reach 500 career wins when he did so in 1993.

Crum, who dealt with health issues (including suffering two strokes) in recent years, remained a beloved presence in Louisville for years after he stepped away from coaching.

The court at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center is named in Crum’s honor and last September a new campus residence hall was dubbed Denny Crum Hall.