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Cumberland to honor Ellis on Feb. 1

Jan. 6—Cumberland will hold a ceremony to honor the career of former coach Cliff Ellis during the Phoenix' games on Feb. 1 against Bethel University at the Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena, whose court is named for the winningest active coach in Division I.

Ellis recently announced his retirement as the head coach of the Coastal Carolina University men's basketball team, ending a career spanning 49 seasons which began at then-Cumberland Junior College.

He went on to coach at South Alabama, Clemson and Auburn before finishing his career at Coastal Carolina. Throughout his career, Ellis amassed a record of 909-576 (.612), with 831 of those victories coming at the NCAA Division I level. Ellis has guided his teams to 10 NCAA tournament appearances, including three Sweet 16 berths.

He served as the head basketball coach and athletic director at Cumberland from 1973-1975. In his three years, he led Cumberland to a 78-12 (.867) record, including two championships in the Tennessee Junior College Athletic Association.

"We are immensely proud to recognize Coach Ellis for his extraordinary contributions to the world of basketball," said vice president of athletics Ron Pavan. "His journey began with us, and it's fitting that we celebrate his incredible achievements where it all started. His impact on the game, his players, and the communities he has served is truly unparalleled."

Throughout his career, Ellis was honored with multiple national awards, including being named the AP, CBS and John Wooden National Coach of the Year in 1999. That same year, he also received the Henry Iba Award. Notably, Ellis is the only coach to have accumulated at least 170 wins at four different NCAA Division I programs. His coaching excellence has been recognized with various Coach of the Year awards from different conferences, such as the Sun Belt (1979), ACC (1987, 1990), SEC (1995, 1999), Big South (2010) and the John Wooden National Coach of the Year (1999).

Additionally, Ellis has secured eight conference regular-season titles, two conference tournament championships and six Coach of the Year honors His achievements have earned him a place in the Alabama, Clemson, Cumberland and Mobile Sports Halls of Fame.

As part of the ceremony, Cumberland will pay tribute to Ellis' legacy at halftime of the men's game slated to start at 7:30 p.m. Ellis will also join the Cumberland Sports Network at halftime of the women's game joining Pavan and Jon Boyce for an interview. The following day, Ellis will be the guest star with Coleman Walker on Coleman and Company on WANT FM 98.9 at 7:30 a.m.