BRISTOL, Tenn. – King University men’s basketball coach George Pitts has had a historic career, and this week he added another accomplishment to his list. With King’s 75-57 victory over Limestone College on Saturday, Pitts passed Al Nida for the most wins in program history.
“In my 11-plus years at King University I’ve been blessed to have had the privilege to work with many outstanding players and coaches,” Pitts said. “They have played an integral part in me being able to break Al Nida’s men’s basketball career coaching record. I want to thank each of them and also want to thank Dr. Greg Jordan and Coach Dale Burns for giving me the opportunity to coach at King.”
Pitts took the helm of the men’s basketball program prior to the 2006-07 season, and the last 11-plus years have been one of the best stretches in the history of the program. In that time, Pitts has won 246 games and owns a winning percentage of .701. The Tornado have posted seven 20-win seasons, two regular season conference championships and four conference tournament championships under Pitts’ tutelage.
“Additionally I would also like to thank David Hicks and our entire coaching staff and King’s faculty and staff,” Pitts continued. “From the dining hall that feeds us, security that parks cars, to the current administration and President Whitaker, I’m thankful for their continued encouragement and support. We want to continue the winning tradition and hope the school, community and fans will be right there with us!”
Nida spent 16 seasons at the helm of the men’s basketball program from 1967-83, winning 245 games and posting a winning percentage of .603. He is a member of the King Athletic Hall of Fame and is still the all-time wins leader of the King women’s basketball program with 182 victories. Nida led the men to their first conference title, winning the Volunteer State Athletic Conference (VSAC) in 1969. He led the Tornado to another VSAC title in 1979. Along with his coaching duties, Nida was also the athletic director.
In his career, Pitts has amassed 1,066 wins with 820 coming at high school where he coached for 30 years. During that time he won seven Tennessee state championships, three at Science Hill High School in Johnson City and four at Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tenn.
King won at least 20 games in each of his first four years on campus, and won three straight Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Tournament championships in King’s last three years in the league. Since King became NCAA Division II members in 2010-11, Pitts has led King to 149 wins, including 89 in Conference Carolinas play.
The Tornado reached the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament in their first year eligible, 2011-12 and earned another NCAA Tournament berth in 2015-16. Over the last six years, King has not finished lower than third in the Conference Carolinas standings, including a first place finish in the west division in 2011-12 and a conference title in 2015-16. Following the regular season title in 2015-16, the Tornado won their first Conference Carolinas Tournament title.
Pitts also owns the record for most wins in a season as the Tornado won 26 games in 2007-08. The Tornado nearly matched that mark in 2015-16 with 25 wins, their most since becoming NCAA Division II members.