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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Charlie Titus, founder of UMass Boston basketball, announces retirement from coaching

Titus+has+coached+the+Beacons+since+1974
Titus has coached the Beacons since 1974

On a Wednesday afternoon, just before he heads down to the Clark Center for a practice, Charlie Titus looks around his Quinn Administration Building office. The head men’s basketball coach is pretty upbeat, coming off of a 59-52 stunning of 11th ranked MIT the night before. He is energetic but weary, obviously coming back from a late night out coaching the 6-1 Beacons before attending to his responsibilities as Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation, Special Projects, and Programs the next morning. After 39 years of coaching at the University of Massachusetts Boston, his black hair has turned silver and his responsibilities have mounted.
That will all change next year as Titus recently announced that this season will be his last on the sidelines for the Beacons. This means the basketball program will begin the first coaching search in its history after this season.
Titus is a very unique figure in UMass Boston history. He started coaching when basketball was just a club sport in 1974, and has been at the helm ever since, with one year absences in 1980 and 2004. He recently eclipsed the 300 win plateau at the intercollegiate level and has been a fixture at the athletic department since its inception; even coaching the volleyball team when it first formed in the early 1980’s. Additionally, Titus is leaving behind a major legacy around the college and high school basketball landscape, with dozens of former players and assistant coaches moving into positions at school such as Boston University, Northeastern, Harvard, BC High, Boston Technical, and others.
As for why now is the time to hang up his whistle, Titus explained how he wanted to bring energy to the job every day.
“I’ve never wanted to feel like an old coach,” Titus said. “I don’t feel like that now. I think that, looking into the future, it’s probably not that far away if I keep going because it takes so much energy to get out there on the floor and coach.
“The energy is there but it’s waning a little bit.”
Titus has guided the Beacons to their best start in years behind a very mature group of upperclassmen that are using their experience to pull out victories. However, the prior few years had been difficult and losing takes its toll on Titus who is widely known for his competitiveness.
“The last two or three years have been difficult,” Titus said. “We’ve been playing with a lot of young kids and we’ve been struggling to get some wins under our belt.”
“When you’re on the highs of winning you don’t think about things like leaving, but when you’re on the lows of losing you do think about it,” Titus added. “I would never leave this position simply because of wins and losses but wins and losses force you to think about these things.”
Despite those struggles, Titus still has quite a few great moments that stick out over his tenure. He pointed to the 1982-83 season, which included an NCAA Tournament Berth, and his first club team, which he said put in just as much time and effort as any intercollegiate team, but said that one season has a very special place in his heart.
“Being able to coach my son (AJ), and winning an LEC Championship with him as our point guard in 2006, with him being named MVP, that was unbelievable,” Titus said. “That was a storybook, once in a lifetime kind of thing. That will stay with me.”
It’s moments like that which first compelled Titus — a standout for Boston Technical and St. Michael’s College — to get into coaching. He tries to focus on improving lives through basketball as much as he can.
“One of the things I think about a lot is who can I help and how I can impact someone’s life in a positive manner,” Titus said. “I told my kids when they were growing up that I wanted them to look in the mirror each day and ask themselves ‘did I make someone’s life better today?’ If the answer to that question is yes, then you had a great day, I don’t care what else happened.”
With that concept in mind, Titus feels so much pride when he hears stories of successes that former student athletes at UMass Boston are having. He understands the sacrifices that have to be made to play sports at a commuter school and he is thrilled with what many former athletes have become.
“I am so proud of what so many of the student athletes that have come through here have done with their lives,” Titus said. “I can talk about baseball players who have become lawyers, or some of our hockey players who work in the medical field, or other people who are making contributions to the community. It’s very prideful for me to have been a part of that and hopefully have an impact on these peoples’ lives.”
As for the search for a candidate to fill his massive shoes, Titus said a committee, Chancellor Motley, himself and even some returning players will have a role in the hiring process to bring in a new head coach.
“This is a high profile and desirable job now,” Titus said. “This is an institution on the move. People want to be here. For people in the sports world, when there’s an opportunity to come here in a high profile position like this, the interest is going to be huge. We need to use the right process and hope we make the right decision.”
While finding a successor is important, Titus said he has not thought about how they will have to live up to his legacy. He also said he has given no thought to how the athletic department might honor him when he retires (he was inducted into the UMass Boston Hall of Fame in 2005). He said that when he informed his players of the decision, they matter-of-factly said they will win a championship for him to go out on.
One thing Titus, who will retain his role as Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation, Special Projects, and Programs, said he has given some thought to is what he’ll miss about a game that he has been around every day since he was around six years old.
“I love basketball, I always have. I cannot think of a year in my life when I have not been involved in basketball,” Titus said. “That is going to be the weird thing come next Oct. 15, not preparing for a season will be odd I guess. I would imagine there will be some adjustments during my first basketball season, not being a part of it.”
Even though he’s off the sidelines, you can still expect to see Titus at Beacons games in the future, cheering on UMass Boston athletes playing the sport he loves.
“The only thing I can sort of relate [watching the Beacons] to is when my son and daughter were coming up playing basketball, I always sat way up at the top and I tried to control myself, and I think that’s it’s going to be the same thing. I’m going to try not to be a boisterous fan.”