On March 22, 1976, the UNC Charlotte Men's basketball team were given a hero’s welcome home after their second place showing in that year’s N.I.T. tournament. It was the University's first time participating in a national post-season tournament and while the team ultimately lost the championship 67-71 to Kentucky, 49er forward/center Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell was named Most Valuable Player for the tournament. For those that don't know, our Maxwell shorts are named after him. When the team returned home, the city of Charlotte turned out to celebrate the team’s achievement with a parade down Tryon Street and a mayoral proclamation making March 22, 1976 “UNCC Mean Green Day.”
The following year, the team would make it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, falling 49-51 to Marquette.
Despite the loss of the two leaders of the Final Four team from the previous season, Coach Lee Rose guided the 49ers to a fifth consecutive 20-win season in 1977–1978. Rose only coached at Charlotte for 3 seasons ('75-76, '76-77, and '77-78), but he definitely left his mark. Rose would then leave to coach at Purdue for the 1978–1979 season. Rose's .800 winning percentage at Charlotte remains the highest in school history.
Apparently, J. Murray Atkins Library on UNC Charlotte's main campus has a scrapbook of newspaper clippings from the team's NIT tournament run. I can't wait to go check it out!
Mean Green Day, March 22, 1976. MS0437 Charlotte Corporate Communications, UNC Charlotte.
Until next week,
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Information taken from:
UNC Charlotte Special Collections on Instagram: @unccspeccoll
Wikipedia: "Charlotte 49ers Men's Basketball"
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass