'Big House' Gaines, John Kresse receive Lapchick Character Awards
John Kresse coached the College of Charleston to four NCAA tournament appearances.
Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images North America
Naismith Hall of Famer Clarence "Big House" Gaines, who won 828 games in 47 years at Winston-Salem State, and John Kresse, who led the College of Charleston to an NAIA championship and four NCAA Division I tournament appearances, have been selected as the 2014 recipients of the Lapchick Character Award.
The seventh annual award winners were announced Monday. The award is named after the Naismith Hall of Fame coach and is presented by a group that includes Joe Lapchick biographer and former player Gus Alfieri. It recognizes those who have shown the character traits of Lapchick, who coached at St. John's and with the New York Knicks.
The awards will be presented at a luncheon in New York on Nov. 20 with the recipients honored that night during the 2K Classic, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project at Madison Square Garden.
Gaines, who died in 2005 at age 81, won at least 20 games 18 times and captured eight Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships. In 1966-67, with Earl Monroe as his star player, Gaines led Winston-Salem State to a 31-1 record and the Division II national championship. The Rams were the first basketball program from a historically black college to win an NCAA national title.
Gaines, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1981, was also the longtime athletic director at Winston-Salem State. He served as the CIAA president from 1970 to 1974 and was a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1973 to 1976. He retired as Winston-Salem's coach in 1993.
The home arena for the Rams is named the C. E. Gaines Center, and the university's Hall of Fame is named after Gaines as well. He earned his nickname during his undergraduate days as a football player at Morgan State. A fellow student saw the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Gaines and declared he was "as big as a house."
The 71-year-old Kresse played for Lapchick at St. John's from 1962-64. He was an assistant coach at his alma mater to Naismith Hall of Famer Lou Carnesecca and also worked with him with the New York Nets of the ABA. He went on to compile a 560-143 record in 23 seasons at the College of Charleston. The Cougars won the 1983 NAIA national championship and made four NCAA tournament appearances after the school moved to Division I in 1989.
In 2005, Kresse was inducted into the NAIA Athletic Hall of Fame and the school named its arena after him.
Previous winners of the Lapchick Award, which was first presented in 2008, include Naismith Hall of Famers Carnesecca, Dean Smith, Pat Summitt, John Thompson, Bob Hurley Sr., Pete Carril, Jody Conradt, Cathy Rush, Morgan Wootten, Pete Newell, C.M. Newton, Don Haskins and Kay Yow.