BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Former Western Kentucky University men’s basketball coach Murray Arnold passed away Tuesday, November 14, at the age of 74 in DeLand, Fla., following a battle with cancer.
Arnold coached the Hilltoppers for four seasons (1986-87 through 1989-90), leading WKU to a 71-54 record (56.8%). His 1986-87 club ranks among the great teams in school history, going 29-9 on its way to the program’s first Sun Belt Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament, where the Hilltoppers were ousted in the second round by eventual national runner-up Syracuse on the Orangemen’s home court. That team was also the runner-up in the pre-season NIT in Madison Square Garden. Three of his players — Tellis Frank (first round), Kannard Johnson (second round) and Clarence Martin (third round) — were NBA Draft picks.
He coached two All-Americans during his days on The Hill — Frank (who was the 1987 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year) and Brett McNeal (1989).
Arnold began his coaching career in 1960 at DeLand (Fla.) High School, where he won a state championship, and then completed his career 40 years later at Stetson. He retired from the coaching ranks in 2000.
He also served head coaching stints at Tennessee-Chattanooga, Birmingham Southern, Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Ft. Walton, Fla., where he won a national championship in 1995, and in the professional ranks in Perth, Australia, where he won an Australian National Basketball League championship in 1992. Overall, he won 244 games as a NCAA Division I college basketball head coach at Chattanooga (six seasons), WKU (four) and Stetson (three). He also enjoyed a very successful eight-year run at NAIA Birmingham Southern before moving on to UTC.
He is survived by his wife, the former Ann Conn Johnson, a native of Russellville, Ky.