Carson-Newman to honor coaches that got men’s hoops program to 1,000 wins Saturday against Catawba

Carson-Newman to honor coaches that got men’s hoops program to 1,000 wins Saturday against Catawba

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman men's basketball team will pay homage to the six coaches since 1958 who helped propel the Eagles to 1,000 wins in the program's history. 

Dick Campbell ('58-'68), Gene Mehaffey ('68-'78), Steve David ('78-'81), Chris Jones ('81-'88), Dale Clayton ('88-'10), and current Eagle head coach Chuck Benson will be honored between the men's and women's games Saturday against Catawba.

"For our program to reach 1,000 wins is a historic moment," current Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "I just want to thank those who came before us, coaches and players, for helping us to get to this point.  It's nice to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants.  We just hope we can take it above and beyond where we are now."

Campbell guided Carson-Newman to its best starts in school history turning his time at Mossy Creek.  Campbell accrued a record of 220 wins versus 64 losses.  His 1967, 1961 and 1960 teams all started a school record 8-0.  In 1965, he directed the Eagles to their only Division II top 10 rankings from January 7-21. 

During his tenure, the Eagles produced five all-Americans, the most of any coach at Carson-Newman.  He also guided C-N to six consecutive conference championships.

Mehaffey picked up where Campbell left off, coaching Carson-Newman to a 222-112 record in his 11 seasons from 1968 to 1978. He averaged 20.18 wins a year through his tenure at C-N before leaving Mossy Creek for Ohio Wesleyan where he won a national championship.

Mehaffey led the Eagles to seven conference titles. He also coached three All-Americans while at C-N.  The Mehaffey-helmed 1973 team captured a school-record 31 wins.

That team's five starters included C-N's all-time leading scorer and rebounder Mike Ogan, as well as Steve Williams, the NAIA single-season record holder for assists. Jimmie McGowan, Jay Cuny, and Mark Mason completed a starting five that is widely-regarded as the best to ever play at Mossy Creek.

Mehaffey coached C-N's top two all-time leading scorers, Ogan and former Gibbs standout Tommy Everett. He was assisted by former Eagle Head Coach Chris Jones, who is third all-time in career points scored.

Mehaffey also coached Tony Mills (1966-'70), who was the first African-American player at C-N.

After Mehaffey, Steve David took control of the program from 1978-'81.  The Eagles went picked up 29 wins in his time at Mossy Creek. 

David coached former Mercer coach Brad Seifred when he was on the pine in Holt Fieldhouse.

After David left in '81, former Mehaffey assistant Chris Jones took over the program. 

In his first season at Carson-Newman, Jones turned an Eagle program that was 5-23 the season prior into a 24-13 team that made an appearance at the NAIA National Tournament.

In his second season, Jones and the Eagles turned in one of the most memorable seasons in school history. C-N would capture a berth in the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City and make a run to the nation quarterfinals, but the win over Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) in the NAIA District Championship to go to Kansas City is one of Jones' fondest memories during as the Eagles' head coach.

"The win over Trevecca in 1983 was a big moment," Jones said. "It was spring break and there was not any students around, so I went to the high school and got on the loudspeaker and brought over their students, their cheerleaders. We had the game in hand late, and with about four minutes left to play, Kansas City Lights started playing on the loudspeaker during the game."

In all, Jones -  a Tennessee Sports Hall of Famer - led the Eagles to five VSAC titles and averaged 27 wins per year in his seven seasons. His resume as a player is even more impressive. He is a member of the C-N Hall of Fame and the C-N Team of the Century.

After Jones, C-N saw its longest tenured head coach. Daley Clayton served as Eagles head coach for 22 seasons. He has compiled 314 career wins, which is the most in Carson-Newman history and the third most in South Atlantic Conference history. His 147 SAC wins are the third most in league history.

The Mt. Dora, Fla.-native took over the Eagle program in 1988-'89, turning in a 12-19 record that year.

In just his third season as C-N head coach, Clayton led the Eagles to the SAC regular season title behind an 18-9 record. He was also named SAC Coach of the Year after his team finished 10-4 in league play.

The 1990-'91 SAC title was the first of five South Atlantic Conference regular season and tournament titles Clayton's Eagles would claim.

Clayton's best season at Mossy Creek came in 2001-'02, when the Eagles reeled off a 26-5 campaign, including a 13-1 record in league play, to claim the Eagles second SAC title under Clayton. The Eagles cruised through the SAC Tournament, winning their three tournament games by an average of 27.3 points per game.

C-N would go on to host the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional in Holt Fieldhouse, eventually falling in the Sweet 16 to Shaw University, 69-68, to end their 17-game winning streak, the longest of the Dale Clayton era.

Clayton would again earn SAC Coach of the Year honors in 2001-'02, while standout forward Kyle Gribble was named South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year and All-American. The Eagles would go on to repeat as SAC Regular Season Champions in 2002-'03 with a 10-4 mark in league play.

Carson-Newman attained its 1,000th victory in program history under the hand of current head man Chuck Benson.  The Eagles gutted out a 68-62 victory over Lees-McRae on the road, coming back from a 17-point deficit in the second half to garner win 1,000 in dramatic fashion. 

Benson has seen milestones come in his first three seasons at Mossy Creek.  In year two for Benson, the Eagles swept archrival and nationally ranked Lincoln Memorial. Benson's Eagles knocked the fifth-ranked Railsplitters down on the road 64-61 - ending a 30-game home winning streak for LMU - on Jan. 25 before coming back to Holt Fieldhouse and turning the trick again with a 77-69 victory on senior day.  The Eagles also ended a near decade long home losing streak to Tusculum, beating the Pioneers 78-64 before nearly 900 fans at Holt Fieldhouse.  

The Eagles turned heads in Benson's first season by finishing the regular season in a tie for fourth in the conference standings with an 8-10 mark after being picked ninth in the preseason poll.

 The Eagles claimed quality road wins at Anderson, an Elite Eight participant, and Brevard, the defending conference champion.  Freshman guard Ish Sanders thrived, leading the team in scoring as he set a conference record with 51 points against Mars Hill and broke a school record by making 11 3-pointers against the Lions. Guard Bradley Turner also broke the conference's single game record for assists with 19 against Newberry. 


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