Ron Greene: A Racer Legend


When he had completed his tour of duty, he got a call from Luther.

"Coach Luther said that he had a friend at Loyola University in New Orleans who was looking for an assistant coach. He asked if I'd be interested, and I said yes," Greene recalled. "It didn't pay very much, but I wanted to be a college coach."

"So I went down there and I got hired. That year, we played Texas Western in El Paso and it didn't seem like we got the ball across half-court the whole game. I turned to the head coach and said, 'I don't think I can help you here. I think I need to get some of those guys on their team to come and play for our team.'"

Texas Western won the NCAA championship that year, defeating Kentucky in the title game.

"That first year, we were warming up and getting ready to play Michigan State, Greene said. I was talking to the head coach, Bill Gardner, and Father Smith, the school president.

"When we left, Father Smith shook my hand and said, 'Coach, it was nice to meet you. I hope you don't beat us too badly.' He didn't know who I was. So, I said, 'Father, I hope I don't beat you too.

A year later, Greene became the head coach despite being just 28 years old and Loyola enjoyed it's first winning season in six years.

"In my second year we had a little difficulty with some of the players," he recalled. "They got intoxicated in the school cafeteria and turned their trays over. So I fired them all. We were 11-1 at the time with wins over Michigan State and LSU. But we finished 12-10.

"We didn't do very well after I fired our top four players. But I thought that was what we needed to do. and I figured the Jesuits would too. They weren't very happy about it though."

After another year at Loyola, Greene moved across town to the University of New Orleans which was just starting it's athletic program. But he wasn't just the basketball coach; he was the athletic director, too.

In his first year at UNO, the Privateers finished 18-5. The next year, he guided them to a 23-1 record and a No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Division II poll.

While at New Orleans, Greene took the Privateers to Division I and was essentially the founder of the Sun Belt Conference.

"I sat down with a pen and paper and looked at urban universities that were not playing football good places, great cities like New Orleans," he said. "I came up with UNC-Charlotte, South Alabama, Jacksonville, South Florida, and Georgia State. And they joined us in forming the Sun Belt."