During a career in coaching that spanned more than 40 years, former Stetson coach Murray Arnold started and ended his career as a head coach in the very same place, DeLand, Fla.
Arnold, who became the head coach at DeLand High School in 1960 and concluded his career as Stetson’s head coach in 2000, died on Tuesday, November 13, at Good Samaritan Florida Lutheran in DeLand. He was 74 years old.
The high mark of his career as a college coach – which started as an assistant at Florida State in 1969 and included stops at Birmingham-Southern, Mississippi State, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Western Kentucky – was his six-year tenure at UCT, where he compiled a 135-46 record and five 20-win seasons.
During that time his Mocs teams won three Southern Conference Tournament titles, earning their way into the NCAA Tournament. His teams also made a pair of NIT appearances and his winning percentage of 74.5 is the best in UTC hoops history.
It was in 1985 that Arnold led the Moccasins to wins over Clemson and Lamar for a place in the Sweet 16. Arnold sent four players on to the NBA from UTC and it was there that he had his first encounter with Michael Jordan.
Arnold started his coaching career as an assistant coach at DeMatha Catholic High in Maryland, which was near his alma mater, American University. He worked at DeMatha from 1957-60 when he landed the job as head coach at DeLand High, his first away from his home in University Park, Md.
During his first six years in DeLand, Arnold led the Bulldogs to their only state title, in 1963.
From DeLand he spent two years as head coach at Lyman High in Longwood before the lure of the college game called. He needed just one season as a graduate assistant coach at Florida State before landing the job as head coach at Birmingham-Southern.
Over eight seasons at BSC Arnold posted a 159-74 mark and took the Panthers to the NAIA national tournament three times. He was inducted into the Birmingham-Southern Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.
From there, Arnold spent one season as an assistant coach in the Southeastern Conference at Mississippi State before taking over the program at UTC. He was inducted into the Mocs’ Hall of Fame in 1994.
It was after his tenure at UTC ended when Arnold again crossed paths with Jordan, this time in the NBA. Arnold spent the 1985-86 season as an assistant coach for Stan Albeck. The Bulls made the playoffs that year despite the fact that Jordan, in just his second season, missed 64 games with a broken foot.
Arnold returned to the college game in 1986, taking over as the head coach at Western Kentucky. He led the Hilltoppers to a 71-54 mark over four seasons, including a 29-9 record in his first year, with a Sun Belt Conference title and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
After leaving WKU, Arnold spend time coaching overseas, serving as the head coach for Perth in the Australian National Basketball League. He returned to the United States for the 1994-95 season, leading what was then Okaloosa-Walton Community College near Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., to a junior college national championship.
Arnold’s career came full circle in 1997 when he was named head coach at Stetson. He posted a 42-47 mark for the Hatters over three-plus seasons.
Arnold was a fixture at Stetson games after his retirement, choosing to remain in DeLand with his wife of more than 40 years, Ann Conn Arnold.
Funeral arrangements for Coach Arnold have not yet been announced.