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For 11 years at the helm of the University of Colorado basketball team, former head coach Ricardo Patton has etched his name into the annals of CU basketball history.

 

On October 25, 2006 at Basketball Media Day, Coach Patton announced the 2006-07 season would be his last season of coaching and he would not seek nor accept an extension of his contract.

 

During his tenure, Patton achieved a 184-160 record, earned four NIT appearances, two NCAA Tournaments and three 20-win seasons. His 184 wins are the second most in school history and during conference play, recorded an 80-107 mark.

 

Coming to CU as an assistant coach in 1993, Patton moved up the Colorado coaching ranks, first to interim head coach and then to head coach.

 

Patton was named interim head coach on Jan. 16, 1996, when he replaced Joe Harrington. Patton’s position as the Buffs interim coach didn’t last long as he was promoted to head coach less than two month’s later on March 5 just before the 1996 Big Eight conference tournament.

 

Success was quick to come to CU as in Patton’s first full season as head coach (1996-97) when he led to Buffaloes to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1969. The team finished second in the Big 12 Conference, the highest finish since a 1972-73 second-place tie, and racked up the most victories in program history with 22. On the national level, the Buffs broke into the rankings for the first time in a quarter of a century. Patton was named the West Region Coach of the Year for his leadership as selected by the Basketball Times.

 

In 2002-03, Colorado again returned to the NCAA Tournament by reaching the 20-win plateau and a berth in the south region as the 10th seed.

 

Another post-season berth followed in 2003-04 with a NIT berth after posting an 18-11 campaign and winning 10 conference games, CU’s most since 1996-97. In fact, during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons when the Buffaloes won 18 games, CU also earned a pair of NIT berths. It marked the first time that CU posted back-to-back winning seasons since the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons.

 

In the 105-year history of Colorado basketball, coach Patton teams have won 18 games in a season six of the school’s 11 times in that category. In addition, three of those came in Patton’s first four years as head coach. In 2005-06, CU went 20-11 with an NIT Tournament berth appearance marking the sixth time in his 10 years Patton has guided the Buffaloes to the post-season: a pair of NCAA Tournament berths (1996-97, 2002-03) and four NIT appearances (1998-99, 1999-2000, 2003-04, 2005-06).

Patton’s success did not go unnoticed as the Big 12 Conference gave him the nod as the head coach of the Big 12 All-Star Team during the summer of 2000 where he coached the student-athletes on a tour of Austria. Featuring one player from each Big 12 roster, Patton led the team to a 5-1 mark against the elite teams in Austria.

 

Patton has also seen exciting finishes to his ceremonial wins. In 2002-03, he earned his 125th career win with an exciting buzzer-beater at the Big 12 Tournament in Dallas. James Wright took an inbound pass with 1.8 seconds remaining and banked-in the one point win over Kansas State.

 

When CU defeated Iowa State Jan. 16, 2002, on a last second jump shot by 2003 graduate Stephane Pelle, the game was more than a clutch conference victory. For Patton, it marked his 100th victory as a collegiate coach.

Patton’s 60th victory as a head coach came on Nov. 25, 1999. That win came in just his 108th game at the helm of the program, third fastest of any coach in Colorado history.

 

While his on the court commitment lifts him to the top of Colorado’s coaching ranks, what is more impressive is his unending commitment to the student-athletes involved in the Buffs’ basketball program.

 

“I stress the importance of good character and determination in our young people,” Patton said. “Those are the two qualities I think we should all have. We start there first. We’re laying a foundation for the future. If these kids can be successful and productive in their lives, then I’ve done my job.”

 

Patton’s dedication to the more personal side of each athlete has led him to assume the role of a teacher, guiding his players in their personal development. Each athlete is required to take an etiquette class prior to the season’s start. Players also attend several different denominations of churches and the Denver County Jail.

 

“I want them to be good people and to be ready to be successful members of society,” Patton said. “I also want them to get a good look at where they do not want to end up.”

 

Away from the court, Patton is always on the job and has made promoting Colorado basketball a priority. Patton has found that this promotion helps build not only the program, but also the player.

 

“There’s no place too small for me to go and invite folks to be a part of our program,” Patton said. “I want everyone to feel welcome, to feel they can be a part of our success. I want the community to get to know our team on a personal basis. I want our players visiting schools, children’s hospitals and service clubs. If we teach the kids to give of themselves, they’ll find that they get so much in return.”

 

Before assuming the head coaching title, Patton had two-plus seasons as a Colorado assistant to learn the system.

As a Buffs assistant, Patton was a key to the recruitment of Colorado prep standout and future Buffs All-American Chauncey Billups. Billups left the Buffs after the 1996-97 season with the All-American title for the NBA where he was the No. 3 selection in the 1997 draft.

 

Before heading west to Boulder, Patton served two seasons (1991-93) as an assistant to Frankie Allen at Tennessee State, where he was instrumental in recruiting another future star, Carlos Rogers, the No. 10 pick in the 1994 NBA draft. Prior to that, Patton was an assistant at Arkansas-Little Rock for one season, 1990-91, and Middle Tennessee State from 1988-90. Patton was a member of the coaching staffs at both Tennessee State and Middle Tennessee State when each won the Ohio Valley Conference Championships, and as such, became one of a small circle to have won the OVC title at two different schools.

The Nashville, Tenn., native prepped at Hume Fogg High School where he lettered in basketball before beginning his collegiate career at John C. Calhoun Community College in Decature, Ala. He moved onto Belmont College in his hometown, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a pair of athletic letters. Patton garnered All- American honors for his senior season at Belmont and has been inducted into the Belmont Sports Hall of Fame. In 1989, Patton earned a M.A. in administration and supervision from Trevecca Nazarene College.

 

Before dedicating his life to coaching, Patton worked as a studio cameraman from 1980-85 at Nashville’s CBS affiliate, WTVF-TV. His coaching career began when he accepted posts at Two Rivers Middle School and Hillwood High School, both in Nashville.

Patton, 48, continues to live an active lifestyle as an avid golfer and holds a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He and wife Jennifer have two sons, Ricardo Jr. (18) and Michael (17).

 

The Patton File

Full Name: Ricardo Maurice Patton
Family: Wife Jennifer, sons Ricardo, Jr. and Michael
Birthdate: Oct. 23, 1958
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
High School: Hume Fogg H.S. (Nashville)
College: Belmont '80
Graduate School: Trevecca Nazarene '89

 

Coaching Career

1996-2007
Head Coach, University of Colorado
1993-96
Assistant Coach, University of Colorado
1991-93
Assistant Coach, Tennessee State
1990-91
Assistant Coach, Arkansas-Little Rock
1988-90
Assistant Coach, Middle Tennessee State
1986-87
Head Coach, Hillwood High School
1985-86
Head Coach, Two Rivers Middle School

 

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