Alan Major is in his fifth season as the 49ers head coach.
Year one saw Major doing his best MacGyver impersonation, piece together a season that included wins over #7 Tennessee, at Georgia Tech and vs. Xavier. He did so with more than a shoestring and some paper clips, however.
There was no lack of fight or imagination in a team that had as few as six scholarship players and played 29 of 30 games with eight scholarship players or less.
The win over #7/#7 Tennessee gave the 49ers a win over a top 20 team for the fourth straight year. It was one of just three Top 10 wins by an Atlantic 10 team. The win at Georgia Tech, a double overtime thriller, was one of the team’s school-record overtime contests. The win over Xavier handed the A-10 regular-season champs their lone A-10 regular-season loss.
During that first year, Major signed a Top 10 recruiting class among non-BCS schools, according to ESPN Senior Recruiting analyst Dave Telep.
Year two of the Major era, the 49ers improved their overall and Atlantic 10 record. Charlotte defeated cross-county rival and 2012 NCAA Tournament participant Davidson. Pierria Henry, a member of the 49ers heralded recruiting class, earned Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team honors.
Year three of the Major era, the 49ers captured the Great Alaska Shootout title and set the school-record for best start at 9-0. The 49ers defeated #10 Butler on the road as well. The 49ers won 21 games which marked the program’s first 20 wins season since 2007-08 and the first under Major. He guided the 49ers to their first postseason tournament appearance since 2008 with an NIT appearance. Henry earned A-10 All-Defensive team honors. A member of his second recruiting class, Willie Clayton earned Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team honors.
Year four of the Major era, the 49ers captured the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title with wins over 2013 Big 12 Co-Champs Kansas State, 2013 CAA Champs Northeastern and 2013 National Runner-Up Michigan. Henry was named third-team All-Conference USA as well as to the Conference USA All-Defensive team. Ben Cherry was named to the Conference USA All-Academic team.
Success has followed head coach Alan Major on his college coaching path. For the nine years prior to joining the 49ers, he worked under Thad Matta at Ohio State (6 years) and Xavier (3 years). In those nine years, he participated in seven NCAA Tournaments, including three Sweet 16’s and one national championship game.
“He surrounds himself with good people and works hard to make those around him better,” said Director of Athletics Judy Rose. “He’s been associated with winning programs for a long time.”
Since his first year, Major’s foremost charge was to get to know his team. He encouraged visits and drop-ins. He took the time to talk. Family. Academics. Ups. Downs. Inspiration. Before he could start to build anything on the court, he knew he had to build a relationship off of it.
“Alan comes from a strong background that includes success at the highest level,” said Rose. “But just as important as the impressive credentials of great players and teams he has been a part of is the great energy he exhibits and the genuine care he shows for his players. He wants to develop student-athletes not only in basketball but in life. He wants them to meet their individual goals while working on the team’s goals. He is a people person and a basketball junkie. We have heard from any number of individuals from all facets of the game of basketball and we were supremely impressed with the level of respect Alan has earned at every turn.”
Major has an 18-year assistant coaching background, including stints at Pacific, Southern Illinois and Cal Lutheran. A native of Indianapolis, Major graduated from Purdue in 1992. While at Purdue, Major served as a manager for Gene Keady’s Boilermakers. He received his master’s in education with an emphasis on physical education from Cal Lutheran in 1995.
Major was at Ohio State for six seasons, helping the Buckeyes to a 156-54 record, four NCAA Tournament appearances, a school-record 35 wins in 2006-07, three outright Big Ten regular-season titles and two league tournament titles. In 2009-10, Ohio State reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen after winning both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles. In 2007, the Buckeyes reached the NCAA National Championship game and in 2008, they won the National Invitation Tournament title.
Major was instrumental in the recruitment and development of such players as Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, Kosta Koufos and Evan Turner at Ohio State. All were NBA first round draft choices while Turner swept the 2010 National Player of the Year awards, including the Wooden Award, the Naismith Trophy and the USBWA, Associated Press and NABC Player of the Year awards.
Prior to his time at Ohio State, Major coached NBA first round choice David West at Xavier and NBA No. 1 draft choice Michael Olowokandi at Pacific.
“I’ve been really impressed by Alan’s clear philosophy when it comes to recruitment and scheduling. He believes that it is necessary to build a program rather than merely field a team,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois.
In his three seasons at Xavier, the Musketeers went 78-23 with three NCAA appearances, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2004. He coached for a total of five seasons at Pacific, and helped the Tigers to the 1997 NCAA Tournament. He coached for one season at Southern Illinois under current Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber. His career began at Cal Lutheran where he helped the Kingsmen to a 61-22 record in three seasons, including trips to the NCAA Div. III Tournament in 1993 and 1994.