Following up on a story from last night (DIII DIRT). It’s now been made official – After 603 wins in 30 seasons at Stockton, Gerry Matthews, the winningest men’s basketball coach in New Jersey history, is calling it a career and retiring as the Stockton head coach. Scott Bittner will be elevated to interim head coach for the 2016-17 season after 10 years on the staff during which he has served as assistant coach and associate head coach.
Matthews never had a losing season at the helm of the Osprey program, amassing a 603-243 record (.713 winning percentage). He is one of just 16 coaches in NCAA Division III history to reach the 600-win mark and he ranks in the top 20 all-time in Division III in winning percentage. Matthews led Stockton to 16 NCAA Tournament berths and a 25-17 record in NCAA Tournament play. His teams won at least one game in 12 of their 16 NCAA trips and advanced to the Final Four twice (1987, 2009).
Matthews notched 18 20-win seasons and won nine New Jersey Athletic Conference championships, capturing league titles in four different decades (1980’s, 1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s). His teams played in the NJAC championship game 16 times in his 30 seasons and Matthews was voted NJAC Coach of the Year nine times by his peers.
Matthews arrived at Stockton in 1985 after a successful stint at the high school level in which he went 228-98 and won two state championships in 13 years at Long Branch and Rumson-Fair Haven. In just his second season, he led the Ospreys to the 1987 NCAA Final Four after winning his first NJAC championship, which Stockton successfully defended in 1988.
During the 1990’s, Matthews’ teams earned six NCAA Tournament berths and won two NJAC crowns (1996-97). The program underwent a resurgence a decade later with three straight NCAA appearances from 2008-10. Stockton won NJAC titles in 2008 and 2009. After reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008, Matthews helmed the Ospreys to their greatest season ever in 2009 as they won a school-record 30 games and reached the NCAA championship game.
Stockton’s recent run of success under Matthews continued with three straight NJAC titles the last three years (2014-16). Matthews began racking up milestones over the past few season as well. He collected win number 500 with an 83-60 rout of North Carolina Wesleyan on January 3, 2012. Matthews became the winningest coach in New Jersey men’s basketball history with a 78-58 triumph over Farmingdale State on November 17, 2012 that gave him 515 wins, one more than longtime Princeton head coach Pete Carril.
Matthews hit the 600-win plateau with a 76-56 victory over Kean last season, on February 13, 2016. His 603rd and final win came two weeks later as the Ospreys topped The College of New Jersey 60-53 to earn Matthews’ ninth NJAC championship.
Matthews Coaching Milestones
First win: Stockton 66, Ramapo 65 (November 23, 1985)
100th win: Stockton 78, Kean 70 (February 17, 1990)
200th win: Stockton 59, Kean 50 (February 14, 1996)
300th win: Stockton 69, Marywood 46 (November 16, 2001)
400th win: Stockton 80, Rutgers-Camden 50 (January 31, 2007)
500th win: Stockton 83, North Carolina Wesleyan 60 (January 3, 2012)
515th win: Stockton 78, Farmingdale State 58 (November 17, 2012) – NJ state record
600th win: Stockton 76, Kean 56 (February 13, 2016)
603rd (last) win: Stockton 60, The College of New Jersey 53 (February 27, 2016)