NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – C.J. Woollum, head men’s basketball coach at Christopher Newport University for the past 26 years, has announced his retirement from coaching. He will remain as the school’s Director of Athletics.
“It’s been an unbelievable run,” says Woollum. “When you first take a job you never think of things like years, wins or championships. But then, at the end, you look back and feel good.”
Woollum has a lot to feel good about. In his 26 seasons on the bench he accumulated 502 wins, 17 NCAA tournament appearances, and 13 conference championships, plus a host of other accomplishments.
He steps down on a high note. His team presented him with his 500th coaching victory in the first round of the USA South Athletic Conference championship tournament, and then went on to claim the aforementioned 13th conference title and 17th NCAA bid.
“We’ve built a program that I think is nationally respected and there’s no reason that success can’t continue,” he notes. “We’re going to hire a great coach and we have some talented players returning. There’s no reason to skip a beat.”
Said Christopher Newport President Paul S. Trible, Jr. “C.J.’s love and knowledge of the game of basketball, his dedication to the success of his student-athletes, on and off the court, and his passion for CNU have built one of America’s most respected athletic programs. Coach Woollum has left an indelible mark on this university, this community and the countless student-athletes he taught to work hard, play as a team and pursue excellence in all things.”
Woollum arrived at Christopher Newport in 1984 after a stint of nine years as an assistant at Marshall University. He had actually been an assistant coach at CNU for two years under Bev Vaughan, the father of Christopher Newport basketball, prior to that.
The winning didn’t take long to start. In just his second season on the bench, he guided the Captains to their first conference title and first NCAA appearance during the 1985-86 season.
After missing the post-season the next year, his teams began a run of NCAA tournaments in 13 of the next 14 campaigns.
Among the highlights were four spots in the Sweet 16 and one in the Elite 8. His teams finished either first or second in the conference standings for 15 straight years and played in the conference championship game 15 times in 16 years.