Lady Chants coach LeForce calls it career after 55 years

After a coaching career that has spanned seven decades, Alan LeForce has announced his retirement as the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball coach.

“I always said that I would know when it was time, whenever that might be,” said LeForce, who made the official announcement Wednesday afternoon. “My recent health issues really didn’t factor into my decision, except that it gave me more time to think about it and the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this was the right time to move on to the next phase of my life.”

“Coach LeForce has touched the lives of so many people throughout his career as a basketball coach,” said Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek.  “He was someone who truly coached because he had passion for basketball and a passion for student-athletes. It has been an honor to have the opportunity to work with him during my tenure at Coastal Carolina and more importantly it is a privilege that he has become a great friend to me and my family. “

LeForce ends his 30-year collegiate head coaching career with a 467-406 overall record, including a 228-227 record on the Chanticleer sideline. LeForce made college basketball history in 2010-11 when he won his 200th game at Coastal Carolina Nov. 5, 2011, against Presbyterian, becoming the only head coach to accumulate 200 wins as a Division I men’s and women’s head coach and has more than 100 wins at the public high school level, the private high school level and in the men’s NAIA level.

The winningest women’s basketball coach in school history, LeForce came to Coastal prior to the 1997 season after having previously served as the head men’s basketball coach at College of Charleston (1970-1979) and East Tennessee State (1990-96).

During his tenure as the Chanticleer head coach, LeForce posted seven winning seasons, including a program-best five straight from 2005-06 through 2009-10. He directed the 1998-99 Chants to a Big South tournament runner-up finish en route to the league’s Coach of the Year honors. He followed that performance up by leading the 1999-2000 Chants to a program-best 20 wins.

During his time in Conway, LeForce coached 17 All-Big South Conference performers, eight Big South Freshman Team selections, three Big South Scholar Athletes of the Year, two Big South Players of the Year, a CoSIDA Academic All-America and the 2001 NCAA South Carolina Woman of the Year.

LeForce has won on every level in his 50 years of coaching. From 1990 to 1996, he served as head men’s basketball coach at East Tennessee State University. In that six-year span, the Buccaneers posted a 100-74 overall record and his .574 winning percentage is the highest in the school’s history for coaches with at least four years at ETSU. He led the Bucs to two Southern Conference regular-season co-championships, two Southern Conference Tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances. In his first season as head coach, he directed the Bucs to a 28-5 record and a spot among the nation’s top-20, rising as high as No. 10 in the Associated Press poll.

In the 1992 NCAA Tournament, ETSU knocked off the University of Arizona in the first round before falling 102-90 to eventual national runner-up University of Michigan in the second round. The victory over the Wildcats was the biggest upset of the first round of that year’s NCAA Tournament and marked the first time a school from the Southern Conference had advanced past the first round of the tournament in a decade. LeForce was named the 1991 District Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

During his tenure at ETSU, LeForce coached seven All-Southern Conference players including Greg Dennis and Keith “Mister” Jennings, who also was named to the SoCon’s 75th Anniversary Second Team. Before serving as head coach at ETSU, LeForce was an assistant coach with the Bucs for four seasons. Following the 1996 season, he resigned as ETSU’s coach to accept an assistant director of athletics position at the school. LeForce was inducted into the East Tennessee State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

LeForce began his coaching career in 1958 at his alma mater, Williamsburg High School in Williamsburg, Ky. He coached there from 1958 to 1961 and from 1963 to 1967, taking the 1961-62 year off to serve as an assistant coach at Cumberland (Ky.) College, also his alma mater.

From 1968 to 1971, LeForce served as an assistant coach at Furman University. He became head coach at the College of Charleston in 1971. During his nine-year stint in Charleston, the Cougars ranked among the top teams in NAIA competition. He compiled a 132-110 record and posted five straight winning seasons. His 1975 Cougar squad won a then-school record 21 games. He also was the school’s director of athletics for seven years.

It was at this point in his career that LeForce came to Myrtle Beach and accepted the head coaching and athletics director positions at Coastal Academy. In five years, he led the boys’ basketball team to two South Carolina Independent School State Championships and an impressive 125-15 record. In 1985, he moved to Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and coached the boys’ program at East Cooper High School for one season before accepting his assistant’s job at ETSU.

LeForce is married to the former Shirley Smith of Williamsburg, Ky.; they have two children, Jeff and Michelle. Jeff and his wife Joy, have four children: two daughters, Allie and Abigail, and two sons, Austin and Andrew; Michelle and her husband David have a daughter, Kathryn.

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