Vic Bubas, who led Duke to its first Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball championship in 1960, died Monday. He was 91.
Bubas was on the sideline for the Blue Devils from 1959-69, producing a 213-67 record in that span and leading the team to the NCAA Tournament Final Four three times (1963, ’64 and ’66). Duke won the ACC championship four times under his guidance (’60, ’63, ’64 and ’67).
With a .761 winning percentage, Bubas is the second-winningest Blue Devils coach in the modern era behind Mike Krzyzewski (.786).
“Duke basketball lost a true legend earlier today,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “When I first arrived at Duke, Coach Bubas gave me the best advice. Essentially, he told me to be myself and to focus solely on Duke, while not getting caught up in everything going on around us. We have tried to honor him over the years by playing a level of basketball that lived up to his very high standards, and to those of the program he built here in the 1960s.
“We offer our deepest sympathy to the Bubas family, particularly to his wife Tootie, as well as their friends and the multitude of great players who attended this university during Coach Bubas’ tenure. He was a terrific coach, and more importantly, a special leader who will be missed greatly.”
Bubas was lauded for his talent as a recruiter, taking a Duke team that had only made the ACC Tournament final once prior to his arrival and turning it into a powerhouse by attracting standout talent from all over the country. He is widely credited with being one of the first coaches to target high school players when they were juniors, getting the jump on other schools.
Bubas retired from coaching in 1969 and became an administrator at Duke, eventually serving as the university’s vice president. He moved on to be the first commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976, holding the position for 14 years.
Bubas was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.