GORHAM, Maine — Gary Fifield, who has compiled a record of 660-137 in 27 seasons as the head coach of the University of Southern Maine women’s basketball program, announced his retirement at a press conference Tuesday.
Fifield’s teams have competed in the NCAA Division III tourney in 24 of Fifield’s 27 seasons, and he led the Huskies to the NCAA Division III Final Four five times (1988, 1998, 2000, 2005 and 2006), including three appearances in the national championship game.
His teams also have won 21 shared or outright Little East Conference regular season titles and 20 league tourney titles.
Fifield also is an associate director of athletics at USM and will finish out the remainder of the school year before officially retiring from both posts on June 30.
“Gary’s impact on our athletic program has been enormous, and his retirement will leave a great void in both the coaching and administrative areas of the our department,” USM Director of Athletics Al Bean said in a news release.
Fifield said that coaching at USM has been a tremendous experience.
“When I was hired back in February of 1987, I had no idea how successful and rewarding the next 28 years would be,” he said in the release. “Not many people have the opportunity to spend 28 years of their life doing what they truly love to do alongside of great people.”
Fifield is a member of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
He was named the Russell Athletic/WBCA Division III National Coach of the Year in 2005.
In the 2004-05 season, Fifield guided USM to a school-record 28 consecutive wins, ending with a loss to eventual national champion Millikin in a national semifinal.
The next season, his team finished with a 32-2 record and earned a fifth trip to the Final Four, losing in the championship game.
“[Fifield] is clearly one of the most successful basketball coaches in the history of women’s basketball and has established records and benchmarks that will last for a very long time,” Bean said. “[He] has played a significant role in the organization and administration of the athletic department and has been a tireless worker — he always gets the job done.”
Fifield said he is going to miss the relationships with the players, teaching the game and the camaraderie among the staff.
“When I reflect on my years coaching the Huskies, it will be the relationships with players, assistants, my fellow coaches and staff members that will stand out the most,” he said.
USM finished this season with a 12-14 overall record and 8-6 league mark, losing in the league quarterfinal round to Keene State.
Fifield is a 1975 graduate of the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He earned his master’s degree in educational administration from Vermont in 1982.