Fairmont State coaching legend passes away

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- A Fairmont State University coaching legend has passed away.

According to the university, former men's basketball coach Joe Retton passed away Wednesday.

Retton served as the Falcon's head men's basketball coach for 19 seasons, from 1963 to 1982. As coach, he achieved a record of 478-95, leading the team to 12 regular-season titles in the West Virginia Conference and 8 tournament championships.

"The rich basketball tradition at Fairmont State began during Joe’s time as head coach of our men’s basketball program," stated Fairmont State Acting Director of Athletics Chad Fowler.

“The excellence that Coach Retton demonstrated on the court and off the court permeates the halls of our University,” stated the university's president, Dr. Mirta M. Martin. “The Falcon family grieves with the Retton family for the tremendous loss of a legend.”

Retton was a six-time WVIAC Coach of the Year Recipient, a two-time NAIA National Coach of the Year recipient, and was the Associated Press Small College Coach of the Year.

In 1987, Retton was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame. In 1988, he was selected for the West Virginia Sports Writers Hall of Fame. In 1993, Fairmont State inducted him into their inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame.

His record and honors on the court are just a small part of what Joe means to the entire Fairmont State community,” Fowler stated. “But, the relationships he has formed with players, administrators and the community is what makes today’s news so difficult.

“We grieve with the Retton family during this difficult time and hope that Joe’s legacy will live on as a legendary part of sports history at Fairmont State University.”