- LSU Head Basketball Coach: 1972-97
- Overall Record: 448-301 (.598)
- Final Four: 1981, 1986
- SEC Championships: 1979, 1981, 1986, 1991
- SEC Tournament Championship: 1980
- SEC Coach of the Year: 1973, 1979, 1981, 1989
- National Coach of the Year: 1981
- Member of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame
When he arrived from Washington State via Minot, N.D., there weren’t that many basketball fans in the state of Louisiana who knew who Dale Brown was. When he retired after the 1996-97 season, you would have been hard pressed to find a college basketball fan in the country who didn’t have some inkling about who Dale Brown was and what he stood for.
When Brown arrived in Baton Rouge in March, 1972, he arrived with a dream that was perceived by many who knew the LSU basketball program as impossible. The dream was to make basketball important in football-crazy Tiger country. When Brown was introduced as the Tiger coach, LSU fans were still remembering the Pete Maravich era .
Final Fours? Rudy Macklin? Chris Jackson? Shaq? All a dream.
In those years, fans had to be convinced to come to the new arena known as the LSU Assembly Center. Brown traveled from one end of the state to the other telling all who would listen about the future of LSU basketball. Some thought him foolish. Others questioned his statements. But none who saw or heard him criticized his effort and his tireless energy.
His first LSU team shocked the basketball world by knocking off third-ranked Memphis State in Brown’s home opener in December, 1972.
“The Hustlers,” as they were dubbed, gave the competition fits all season long. They won 14 games, finished 9-9 in the SEC and drew praise from all around the country for their determination. For his achievements with a team picked last in the league, Brown was named SEC Coach of the Year, the first of four such honors he would receive.
Starting with the 1976-77 season, the Tigers increased their victory total every year for the next six seasons.
The streak was highlighted by a 31-5 record in 1980-81 (the most wins in a season in LSU history) and the first of Brown’s two trips to the Final Four. For his success that season Brown was honored as the 1981 National Coach of the Year.
Even more impressive was his second trip to the Final Four in 1985-86 when his Tigers were the lowest seeded team (11th) ever to make it to the Final Four after knocking off teams seeded first, second and third in the region (the only team ever to accomplish that feat on the road to the Final Four).
The Tigers won four SEC titles under Brown and only Adolph Rupp and Joe B. Hall at Kentucky won more SEC titles. His 448-301 record with 238 wins in regular season SEC play, put him second behind only Rupp in wins in the league. He was only the third SEC coach to coach 25 years as a head coach in the league.
Brown was part of 38.5 percent of LSU’s 1,164 total victories in the first 89 seasons of basketball. Also, no coach in LSU history coached more consecutive games — 749.
In 1990, Brown captured the Gold Medal for the South in the Olympic Festival in Minneapolis.
After leaving LSU in 1997, Brown entered private business. He suffered a stroke on April 24, 2003, but returned to work less than a month later after what he called a “miracle” recovery.
Brown was born in 1935 in Minot, a small railroad town in the northwest corner of North Dakota. In high school, he was the leading scorer in both football and basketball at St. Leo’s of Minot. As a senior, he was the state scoring leader in basketball with a state record scoring average. He also set a school record in the 440-yard dash.
Brown earned 12 letters in basketball, football and track at Minot State University (1957), making him the school’s only athlete to achieve that goal. John Chaney of Temple called Brown, “…One of the true statesmen of college basketball. His contributions to the game and society have impacted many. He is an outstanding coach and an outstanding person.”
Legendary coach John Wooden of UCLA said: “I will always remember Dale for his enthusiasm. There are those who say he is a put-on — they just can’t believe that he can be what he professes. But I never questioned that. He amazed me because there is a lot more depth to the man. He was much more than a basketball coach.”
No doubt about it.
Dale Brown’s Career Records at LSU
* record does not reflect five non-conference wins forfeited after his departure from LSU.