PORTLAND, Maine — One of the most prominent high school basketball coaches in Maine history is retiring.
Bob Brown, whose career has spanned 52 years at 10 different coaching stops and more than 600 victories in the high school and college ranks, announced Friday he is stepping down after 11 seasons as the boys varsity coach at Cheverus of Portland, according to the school’s athletic administrator Gary Hoyt.
“I am not resigning,” said Brown in a press release issued by the school. “I am retiring because I know that I am leaving the best coaching job in the state. The whistles will be thrown away, the coaching shoes will become tennis shoes, and those endless hours on the court and with film will now be spent with family, grandkids, traveling, fishing, bridge, reading and just enjoying what is out there.”
Brown went 203-29 at Cheverus from 2001 to 2012, leading the Stags to Class A state championships in 2008 and 2010 as well as four Western A titles and eight Southern Maine Activities Association championships. Brown was named SMAA coach of the year three times.
“Bob’s goal was not just to teach players the game he loves, but to use the game to teach boys to be men,” Hoyt said. “Bob always asked much of his players but more of himself. His high standards have given him an equally high place in the hearts of his players and colleagues. Generations of basketball players can testify to his passion for the game and more importantly, his dedication to his players. I will miss a truly gifted educator, friend and colleague.”
Brown becomes the second high-profile Maine schoolboy basketball coach to leave the profession in recent days. The retirement of Jim Bessey, who had 475 wins during a 40-year varsity coaching career at Mt. Blue of Farmington and Madison, became public earlier this week.
Brown guided Cheverus to a 13-5 regular-season record and a berth in the Western A semifinals this winter.
“Coaching basketball at Cheverus for the past 11 years has been extremely rewarding,” Brown said. “I have been blessed with talented young men with outstanding character and parents who have allowed their sons to have ‘their’ year and me to be their coach. These parents have been supportive and have never crossed ‘that line,’ which is rare in this day and age. I have worked with administrators who have set high standards while still being knowledgeable about the life values that sports can bring to a young man.”
A graduate of Augusta’s Cony High School and Boston University, Brown began teaching and coaching in 1960 at Belgrade High School. He returned to Cony in 1963 where he taught mathematics and coached before moving on to subsequent stints at Williams (now Messalonskee) High School in Oakland and at Rockland District High School.
Brown succeeded Gene Hunter as the head boys’ basketball coach at South Portland in 1974, and with the help of his son Brett — now an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs and head coach of the Australian Olympic basketball team — led the Red Riots to three consecutive Western A crowns and back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons in 1979 and 1980.
Brown joined Rick Pitino’s staff at Boston University in 1981, and after two years as a Division I assistant he was named head coach at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., where he inherited a team ranked near the bottom nationally in Division II and by his third season guided the Hawks to the Northeast 8 conference title and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
After one year at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Brown began a three-year run at the University of Southern Maine that resulted in a 66-24 record and a berth in the 1989 NCAA Division III Final Four. That effort, where the Huskies finished third, represents the best performance by any Maine college men’s team in the NCAAs to date.
Brown returned to Boston University as the men’s head basketball coach for four seasons before ultimately coming back to the Maine high school scene in 1996 at Bonny Eagle of Standish, where his teams went 51-10 over three years and won the 1997 SMAA title.
Brown also has been a clinician at coaching clinics in Greece, Finland, Australia, New Zealand and throughout New England and a consultant to professional basketball teams in Sydney, Australia; Tasmania, Australia; and Lahti, Finland.
In his 32 years of high school head coaching, Brown’s teams compiled a 476-154 record with four Class A state championships and seven regional crowns. Only twice did his teams not qualify for postseason play.
Brown went 142-144 in 10 years as a college head coach for a combined record of 618-298.
Brown also was a founder, along with Art Dyer and Tom Maines, of the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches. His contributions to Maine basketball have been recognized by the naming of the annual MABC contributors award in his honor.
Brown was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, University of Southern Maine Hall of Fame in 2010, Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and Maine Sports Legends hall of honors in 2011.