Larry Hunter Photo Gallery
ATHENS, Ohio -- Ohio Athletics is mourning the loss of men's basketball alumnus and former head coach Larry Hunter, who passed away on Friday (May 4) at the age of 68 after suffering a stroke.
"The entire Ohio Athletics family is saddened to hear of the passing of Larry Hunter," said Ohio Director of Athletics Jim Schaus. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. Coach Hunter left a lasting legacy at Ohio and touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with. He will be missed and will forever be remembered for his contributions to the lives of so many student-athletes, the game of basketball and Ohio Athletics."
A native of Athens, Hunter played for the Bobcats from 1970-71 under the legendary Jim Snyder. He graduated from Ohio in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, majoring in social studies comprehensive. He earned his Master of Science in Physical Education from Ohio in 1973.
After a successful 13-year stint as the head coach at Wittenberg, Hunter returned to his alma mater in 1989, where he served as the head coach at Ohio for 12 years (1989-2001). The Bobcats went 204-148 (.580) -- including 123-87 (.586) in Mid-American Conference play -- during his tenure. In 1993-94, Ohio went 25-8, won the MAC regular season title with a 14-4 conference mark. The Bobcats went on to capture the MAC tournament crown that season and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the 10thtime in program history. The following year, the Bobcats won the preseason National Invitation Tournament, posted a 24-10 overall record and advanced to the second round of the postseason NIT.
Hunter coached 16 All-MAC performers and four first-team Academic All-MAC selections. Under his watch, three Bobcats earned MAC Player of the Year distinction: Dave Jamerson (1990), Lewis Geter (1992) and Gary Trent (1993, '94 and '95). Two Ohio players garnered MAC Freshman of the Year distinction under his tutelage, with Rush Floyd (1991) and Trent ('93) earning honors.
Jamerson set a MAC record with 874 points in 1990 and was recognized as a first-team Academic All-America honoree for his efforts on the court and in the classroom. He went on to be a first-round pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, with the Miami Heat making him the 15th overall selection. Trent, who was named a third-team Associated Press All-American in 1995, left Ohio after his junior season to become an NBA first-round selection, with the Milwaukee Bucks taking him with the 11th overall pick. Brandon Hunter was taken in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics with the 56th overall pick. Jamerson (first; 2,336 points), Trent (third; 2,108 points), Brandon Hunter (fifth; 2,012 points) and Geno Ford (sixth; 1,752 points) still rank among the top six in Ohio history in scoring.
"Coach Hunter has made a significant impact on my life," said Ford. "Not only being willing to recruit me to Ohio University, which in my opinion is the elite Division I school in the region academically and basketball-wise, but he also hired me to be his assistant. Without that, I don't know that I ever would have got into college coaching. So, basically, from age 18 on, he's had a major influence and thumbprint on my career and my life in general. You could not have been fortunate to play for a better person than Coach Hunter was."
Thirty of the 38 players Hunter coached at Ohio who completed their eligibility graduated, including 12 who went on to earn their master's degrees, posting an overall graduation rate as a head coach of 85 percent.
"All Bobcats mourn the loss of Larry Hunter," said fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips. "He was a great person and a great coach who gave a lot to this program."
Following his tenure as head coach of the Bobcats, Hunter spent four years as an assistant head coach at North Carolina State – including the final three as the associate head coach. He was then hired as the head coach at Western Carolina in 2005-06, where he spent the last 13 years. The Catamounts reached the Southern Conference title game twice under his watch (2012, '14). He stepped down from his position at Western Carolina on March 4.
In 37 years as a head coach, Hunter posted a record of 702-453 (.608). He ranked eighth in overall career victories among active head coaches at the time he stepped down from his position at Western Carolina. He is just one of 40 NCAA men's basketball coaches all-time to eclipse the 700 career-win milestone. Including his head coaching stints at Wittenberg, Ohio and Western Carolina and his time spent as an assistant coach at Marietta College and North Carolina State, Hunter gave 47 years of his life to coaching the game of basketball, tallying a record of 867-550 (.612).
Hunter is survived by his wife, the former Mary Kay Friedrich; brother, Garry Hunter, and his wife, Becky Hunter; and sister, Donna, and her husband, Darrell Brown.