Coach charlie titus retires as umass boston head basketball coach sports umassmedia.com bp gas locations

So much has changed at the University of Massachusetts Boston since 1974. There are more students, newer buildings, fewer parking spots, cell phones, and diet soda. Back then, a gallon of gas cost 53 cents and the MBTA actually ran. Chancellor J. Keith Motley was on Northeastern’s basketball team at the time. One constant, however, was Charlie Titus, the only head coach in Beacons Men’s Basketball history, who called it quits on Saturday with a 95-79 over Western Connecticut State University. The game drew people who were impacted by his tenure as the head of the Beacons and UMass Boston athletics in general.

Titus is one of the last coaches remaining from his era. He’s a hard-nosed guy who emphasizes defense and puts mentorship and molding young men ahead of what happens on the court. A standout at St. Michael’s, Titus came to campus in 1974 and arrived on a peninsula without a variety basketball team. In the 40 years since, 39 of which he coached, Titus has been instrumental in the development of the Athletic Department. In fact, since he assumed the role of Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation, Special Projects, and Intramurals, he’s played a major role in securing renovations for his own home arena. He’s a man who wears many hats, but his most significant one came off on Saturday.

"It’s not as much of a coach-controlled game as it was in the ’70s, especially at the college level," Titus said. "It’s more of a player-controlled game, so players are doing different things on the floor. I think the players have gotten so much better physically and athletically."

"It definitely is a guard game now. If you don’t have good guards you’re not going to win. It definitely was an inside out game in the ’70s, and now it’s just outside. Kids want to shoot 3s and they want to dunk. When I was in college you couldn’t dunk, and even when they put the dunk back in it was still an inside out game, you ran a lot more plays."

Coach Titus, who Dan Shaughnessy has referred to as a "Boston institution," has always viewed his role as a mentor as extremely important, and he decided to use basketball, which he described as "an opportunity to provide opportunities to young men," at a young age. That showed at his final game, when the crowd broke into chants of "Charlie" during the post-game ceremony. The City of Boston declared Feb. 21 "Charlie Titus Day."

"If I was a professor, I probably would be working mainly with students who would be here anyway. That’s ok, I’m not knocking that, but basketball gave us an opportunity to reach out to young men who might not be here if it wasn’t for the game. That’s the difference for me."

Titus is involved with many rewarding ventures, including a project to build basketball courts in West Africa and many trips with the Beacons to visit children in the hospital, but says he feels especially rewarded when he sees his players improve as players and men in general.

Titus, who won his 300th game last season, said he’s currently working to develop a degree-completion program where his former players who were unable to graduate will be able to earn their diplomas. Among other projects he will continue when he hangs up his whistle are the creation of a sports management academic program, the development of a new baseball facility, and ongoing renovations to the Clark Center. Because he’ll be so occupied with this work, Titus said all of the attention surrounding his final season hasn’t been odd.

The veteran coach sometimes doesn’t like to think about how long he’s been at the helm (he mentioned how the addition of the three point line revolutionized the game), but the one thing he said hasn’t changed about the campus that he loves is the student body.

"We have amazing students," Titus said. "When you think about what they go through compared to other students, particularly the ones right out of high school who live on college campuses, and the level these students have been able to achieve […] the way that the campus his risen in prestige, completely has to do with the students and the faculty."

It hasn’t always been easy for Titus as Beacons coach, coaching before empty gyms and often having a high turnover rate for a variety of reasons, but it’s something he’s loved. He’s said throughout this year that he’ll be right in the stands cheering the Beacons on next season, and his players mean the world to him. Even as his career wound down and he was showered with accolades, he wanted to make sure the focus was on the entire group.