Shelby Metcalf

Shelby Metcalf (December 23, 1930 – February 8, 2007) was the head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies men's basketball team for 27 seasons, from 1963 to 1990. He won more games than any other coach in the former Southwest Conference. Achieving success as basketball coach at a university known more for its dedication to its football team, Metcalf endeared himself to Aggie fans for his loyalty to the school and his witticisms. Although his coaching career ended on a bitter note when he was fired in a dispute with A&M athletic director John David Crow in 1990, Metcalf remained loyal to Texas A&M University. He continued to live in the College Station community and supported the Aggie basketball coaches who succeeded him.

Shelby Metcalf
Shelby Metcalf.jpg
Metcalf from the 1970 Aggieland.
Biographical details
Born(1930-12-23)December 23, 1930
Tulsa, Oklahoma
DiedFebruary 8, 2007(2007-02-08) (aged 76)
College Station, Texas
Playing career
1952–1955East Texas State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1958–1963Texas A&M (assistant)
1963–1990Texas A&M
Head coaching record
Tournaments3–5 (NCAA Division I)
4–4 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
6 SWC regular season (1964, 1969, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1986)
2 SWC Tournament (1980, 1987)
Helms Foundation First Team (1953)[1]
Lone Star Conference Second Team (1953)[1]
NAIA Second Team (1954)[1]
Texas Sports Hall of Fame (1994)[2]

Early yearsEdit

Shelby R. Metcalf, Jr. grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma[3] and attended Tulsa Central High School.[4] He attended A&M Junior College for one year before transferring to East Texas State (now Texas A&M University-Commerce), where he was an All-American guard and led the team to three NAIA national tournaments,[5] twice being named to the all-tournament team.[2] In his senior year in 1955, the team won the NAIA championship; the same year, Metcalf earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at ETSU.[5]

After graduation, Metcalf spent one year as a head coach at Cayuga (Texas) High School, posting a 33-10 record. He then joined the United States Air Force, becoming the Athletic Officer at Sembach Air Base in Germany from 1956 to 1958. As a player and coach, he amassed a 78-17 record and won the All-Germany Championship twice.[2]

Coaching careerEdit

Metcalf joined the Texas A&M University men's basketball coaching staff in 1958 as the freshman coach under Bob Rogers, who had previously coached Metcalf at East Texas State University. For the next five years, Metcalf continued in that role, before replacing Rogers as head coach in 1963.[6]

During his 26½ seasons with Texas A&M from 1963 to 1990, Metcalf won a total of 438 games, 239 of them in conference play, more than any other men's basketball coach in Southwest Conference history. His coaching record was 438-306, 239-158 in conference. Metcalf was known as "The King of Tournaments", for taking the Aggies to 74 in-season tournaments[7][8] in order to ensure that the team would play at least one game each year on a neutral floor. In the 1989-90 season, the team made a record five tournament appearances.[2]

In his first season as a head coach, Metcalf's team went 18-7, winning the Southwest Conference, the Aggies' first conference championship in 41 years. Metcalf's teams won a total of six conference championships (1964, 1969, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1986) and only placed lower than fourth in the conference six times. Under Metcalf, the A&M team made five NCAA tournament appearances, including two Sweet Sixteen appearances in 1969[6] (when only 25 teams were invited to the tournament[2]) and 1980.[6] The latter team won 26 games—a school record that stood until 2006-07—beating North Carolina in double overtime in the second round of the tournament before just missing advancing to the Elite Eight with an overtime loss to eventual champion Louisville.[9]

Twenty-four of Metcalf's players earned first-team all-conference citations and John Beasley was named a first-team All-American by the Helms Foundation in 1966. Eighteen players were drafted by professional basketball leagues, including Sonny Parker, who was a 1976 first-round NBA draft pick.[3] In 1971, the A&M men's basketball color barrier was broken when Metcalf personally convinced Mario Brown, an African-American player, to attend the school. Brown later earned second-team All-Southwest Conference honors and was selected as a team co-captain.[10]

Metcalf's success prompted the primarily football-focused student body to begin paying attention to basketball. The A&M basketball arena, G. Rollie White Coliseum, often sold out and soon became known as the "Holler House on the Brazos".[6] Metcalf took full advantage of the noisy arena, earning a doctorate in Recreation and Resource Development from Texas A&M in 1974 with a dissertation titled "Crowd Behavior at Southwest Conference Games".[3]

The longest serving basketball coach in Southwest Conference history,[9] Metcalf was fired after feuding with Athletic Director John David Crow midway through the 1989-1990 season. When asked by the media what happened between the two, Metcalf remarked, "I made a comment that I didn't think John David was all that bright. And I thought I was being generous."[7] The next year the Aggies began what would grow into a fifteen-year basketball slump that included only one winning season. The team did not approach Metcalf's success until 2005, when A&M hired former UTEP coach Billy Gillispie.[6] Gillispie reached out to Metcalf, inviting him to practices and encouraging him to attend the home games.[11]

Post-coaching careerEdit

After being relieved of his coaching duties, Metcalf worked for the A&M Center of Academic Enhancement. Until 1994, he often spoke at banquets, athletic events, and high schools, including three appearances at prison graduations, and was twice selected to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.[6]

Career honorsEdit

He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the East Texas State Athletics Hall of Fame, the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, and the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame. He was also elected into Phi Kappa Phi, one of the most prestigious honor societies in academia.

Metcalf had such a profound effect on Aggie basketball that during the 2006-2007 season, former Aggie coach Billy Gillispie began a tournament in his honor held in College Station, Texas, titled the Shelby Metcalf Classic.

Metcalf died on February 8, 2007 from cancer. He was survived by his widow, Janis, and their daughter, Shelley Metcalf Valerius.

Head coaching recordEdit

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Texas A&M Aggies (Southwest Conference) (1963–1990)
1963–64 Texas A&M 18–7 13–1 1st NCAA University Division Regional Quarterfinal
1964–65 Texas A&M 14–10 7–7 4th
1965–66 Texas A&M 15–9 10–4 2nd
1966–67 Texas A&M 6–18 5–9 6th
1967–68 Texas A&M 14–10 8–6 T–2nd
1968–69 Texas A&M 18–9 12–2 1st NCAA University Division Sweet 16
1969–70 Texas A&M 14–10 9–5 2nd
1970–71 Texas A&M 9–17 5–9 7th
1971–72 Texas A&M 16–10 9–5 T–3rd
1972–73 Texas A&M 17–9 9–5 T–2nd
1973–74 Texas A&M 15–11 7–7 4th
1974–75 Texas A&M 20–7 12–2 1st NCAA Division I Regional Quarterfinal
1975–76 Texas A&M 21–6 14–2 1st
1976–77 Texas A&M 14–14 8–8 T–4th
1977–78 Texas A&M 12–15 5–11 7th
1978–79 Texas A&M 24–9 11–5 3rd NIT Quarterfinal
1979–80 Texas A&M 26–8 14–2 1st NCAA Division I Sweet 16
1980–81 Texas A&M 15–12 8–8 T–4th
1981–82 Texas A&M 20–11 10–6 3rd NIT Quarterfinal
1982–83 Texas A&M 17–14 10–6 3rd
1983–84 Texas A&M 16–14 7–9 5th
1984–85 Texas A&M 19–11 10–6 T–2nd NIT First Round
1985–86 Texas A&M 20–12 12–4 T–1st NIT First Round
1986–87 Texas A&M 17–14 6–10 8th NCAA Division I First Round
1987–88 Texas A&M 16–15 8–8 6th
1988–89 Texas A&M 16–14 8–8 T–4th
1989–90 Texas A&M 9–10‡ 2–3‡
Texas A&M: 438–306 239–158
Total: 438–306

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

‡ Partial season; released after 19 games


  1. ^ a b c "Texas A&M-Commerce 2006-07 Basketball Media Guide" (PDF). Texas A&M University-Commerce. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Legendary Aggie Hoops Coach Shelby Metcalf Passes Away". Texas A&M Athletics. February 8, 2007. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  3. ^ a b c "METCALF, LEWIS AMONG 1998 INDUCTEES INTO A&M ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME". Texas A&M University Athletics. October 27, 1998. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  4. ^ Yvonne Litchfield, "`Golden Memories' await Central High's class of '49", Tulsa World, April 18, 1999.
  5. ^ a b Rojas, Rick; Nicole Alvarado (February 9, 2007). "Shelby Metcalf dies at 76: Legendary men's basketball coach put A&M program on the map". The Battalion. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Cessna, Robert (February 8, 2007). "Former A&M Basketball coach Shelby Metcalf dies at age 76". Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  7. ^ a b "Metcalf dies; sets SWC wins record at Texas A&M". February 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  8. ^ Carlton, Chuck; Rachel Cohen (February 10, 2007). "Remembering Shelby Metcalf". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  9. ^ a b Cohen, Rachel (February 12, 2007). "Former A&M Coach Metcalf dies". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  10. ^ "First African American to play basketball at A&M dies of cancer". Bryan-College Station Eagle. October 10, 2002. Archived from the original on December 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  11. ^ Caplan, Jeff (February 10, 2007). "Shelby Metcalf (1931-2007): A&M legend's wit won over many". Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram. Retrieved 2007-02-19.[dead link]