Gene Bartow,legendary college basketball coach and a native of Browning, Missouri,led the 1973 Memphis State Tiger basketball team to the NCAA National Championship Game against UCLA. Bartow also started the UAB athletics program when he arrived in Birmingham in 1977. By the time he was finished, he had left an indelible mark on UAB and the city of Birmingham, among many other places. Coach Bartow will be remembered as much for his grace and kindness as his success on the basketball court.
Bartow coached a total of 34 years at six universities. His overall record was 647-353, making him the 38th winningest coach in NCAA history. Bartow, considered the “founding father” of UAB athletics, grew the intercollegiate sports program from its infancy into one that featured 17 sports and an annual operating budget that exceeded $8 million when he retired in 2000.
Not one to remain idle, Bartow returned to Memphis in 2001 to aid in the development of the NBA’s local franchise, the Grizzlies, after the Vancouver franchise moved to the Bluff City that same year. He worked for 10 seasons with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.
One of the most loved and respected figures in Memphis and Birmingham (Ala.) sports history, Bartow was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Coach Bartow and his wife, Ruth, have three children and seven grandchildren.