published Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Ex-Mocs coach Murray Arnold dies at 74

Former UTC head coach, Murray Arnold, shakes hands, Jan. 29, 2011, with Chancellor Roger Brown during the UTC vs. Elon basketball game at the McKenzie Arena.
Former UTC head coach, Murray Arnold, shakes hands, Jan. 29, 2011, with Chancellor Roger Brown during the UTC vs. Elon basketball game at the McKenzie Arena.
Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Cancer has claimed the life of former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach Murray Arnold.

Arnold, 74, died Tuesday night in DeLand, Fla., where he continued to live after coaching at Stetson University. He coached at UTC from 1979 until 1985 with a 135-46 record, including 101-23 the last four years.

He guided the Mocs to within inches of a Sweet 16 berth 15 years before the school got there. One of his later UTC players was Gerald Wilkins, who went on to a distinguished NBA career.

"Everybody remembers Murray Arnold here. He got the whole DI championship legacy going," current Mocs coach John Shulman said. "He's a very well respected coach in the whole industry, and he loved, absolutely loved, basketball. You would see him at every AAU event in Orlando every summer. He just loved the game.

"This is a sad day not only for Chatt basketball but Chattanooga. He did a lot of neat things to bring attention to the city."

Nick Morken was the point guard on Arnold's 1981-82 team that went 27-4 and beat North Carolina State in the NCAA tournament and then lost by one point to Minnesota. Morken became a professional coach in Australia at the recommendation of Arnold, who coached the national champion Perth Wildcats there, and then assisted Arnold at Okaloosa-Walton (now Northwest Florida) Junior College for two years.

"I had only been a head coach up to then -- I got the job at Marion County High School right out of college [and stayed there nine years] -- and I knew I'd learn a lot if I worked for him," Morken said Wednesday from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., where he now works for a company that sells tents to the military.

"Coach Arnold was a basketball genius. He was an amazing guy and a phenomenal person," Morken added. "I have him to thank for most of my career."

Morken was playing for a junior college in Mississippi when UTC assistant coach Kevin Gray watched him play and invited him for a visit. Morken's first acquaintance with Arnold was on that visit.

"He didn't look like a player, but he sure could coach," Morken said.

Arnold coached at Western Kentucky and with the NBA's Chicago Bulls before taking the job in Australia. He left Okaloosa-Walton for Stetson.

Dalton State athletic director Derek Waugh assisted Arnold and then succeeded him at Stetson in 2000.

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