Pat Cunningham, Trinity’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach, has announced plans to retire at the conclusion of the current academic year.
Since joining the staff in 1999, Coach Cunningham amassed a record of 352-221 (.614) over 21 seasons at the helm. Coupled with head coaching positions at the University of Chicago (IL) and Manchester (IN) University, Coach Cunningham has compiled a 504-387 (.566) record over 33 seasons.
He was ranked in the top 20 of active NCAA Division III coaches by victories.
“Although it’s never a good time to step away from something that I absolutely love doing, there comes a time when it’s necessary to pursue other opportunities,” said Coach Cunningham. “I cannot say enough about the wonderful young men I’ve been fortunate to coach for the past 21 years. Being able to interact and hopefully positively impact their lives has been a pure joy. Thinking back on all of the former players who have gone on to be meaningful members of society makes this job what it is. I thank Trinity for giving me the opportunity to coach here and wish the program nothing but the best as they move forward.”
Coach Cunningham guided the Tigers to nine NCAA Division III Playoffs appearances and seven Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Championships. Trinity won three consecutive SCAC Championships on two occasions, from 2003-2005 and 2012-2014.
The Tigers advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2005 and won a school-record 25 games. Coach Cunningham’s squads produced eight 20-win seasons. Respected by his peers, Coach Cunningham was elected SCAC Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year six times.
During Coach Cunningham’s tenure at Trinity, the Tigers produced an All-American, one SCAC Player of the Year, three Defensive Players of the Year, and a Newcomer of the Year. A total of 31 Tiger players earned All-SCAC recognition on Coach Cunningham’s watch.
The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) bestowed a high honor on Coach Cunningham in 2011. He was named a Guardian of the Game, at a ceremony at the NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four in Houston, Texas. He was the recipient of the Advocacy Award, which recognizes leadership and guidance on issues affecting the basketball community.
Coach Cunningham is a former member of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship Committee, and was instrumental in starting the NABC All-Star Game. He is one of three Division III coaches on the NABC Board of Directors, which is a position he has held for the past five years. He also serves on the selection committee for the Jostens Trophy, which is the Division III men’s and women’s basketball player of the year award, and is presented annually by the Salem Rotary Club.
“‘The winningest coach in Trinity men’s basketball history’ says it all,” reflected Trinity Director of Athletics Bob King. “I appreciate all that Pat has done for our basketball program and our student-athletes here at Trinity. He will be missed.”
In addition to coaching men’s basketball, Coach Cunningham serves as Trinity’s Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance.
Although it will not begin immediately, Trinity will begin a national search for a new men’s basketball coach during the spring semester.