The third time didn’t prove to be the charm for Lefty Driesell's candidacy for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
One of 13 nominees this year, the 84-year-old coach who spent 17 seasons at Maryland and also guided three other programs to the NCAA tournament during his career failed to receive at least 18 of the 24 votes needed for selection.
Driesell confirmed Sunday night that he didn’t make it.
The Class of 2016, which will be inducted later this year in Springfeld, Mass., will be introduced Monday at the Final Four in Houston. Among those selected are former NBA stars Yao Ming and Allen Iverson, as well as Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.
In a statement, Driesell said: “I was surprised and disappointed to learn that I was not elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame. Basketball was my life for more than 50 years, I gave it everything I had. I could recount the wins and awards, but that information is readily available for everyone to see. I think my record speaks for itself.
“I respect the Hall of Fame, and if I were elected, it would be the capstone of my professional career. Even more important, my election would serve as a tribute to the great institutions of higher learning that I have served, the outstanding players I coached, the assistant coaches, trainers, managers and fans each of the programs I led. I would love them to get the recognition I feel they richly deserve.
“Beyond the wins, I am especially proud of the academic and professional accomplishments of the young men I coached. They played hard, won a lot of games and did a lot of good for the universities they represented.”
Driesell declined to comment further, pending Monday’s announcement.
Driesell won 786 games, including 348 at Maryland. Now tied for eighth all time in victories among Division I coaches, Driesell trailed only Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp and Bobby Knight when he retired during the 2002-03 season.
Driesell is one of only 11 coaches to take four programs to the NCAA tournament.
Davidson played in the NCAA tournament three times under Driesell, twice going to the Elite Eight and in 1969 losing on a last-second shot by North Carolina star Charlie Scott at Cole Field House. After coming to Maryland in 1969, Driesell vowed to turn the Terps into the "UCLA of the East.”
Though he didn’t quite accomplish that, Driesell coached Maryland to the then-prestigious National Invitation Tournament title in 1972, and followed that with Elite Eight appearances in 1973 and 1975. In all, the Terps went to the NCAA tournament eight times and also reached the Sweet 16 three other times.
Driesell was forced to resign four months after star player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose in June 1986 amid university-wide turmoil that also resulted in the resignation of athletic director Dick Dull and the departure of university president John B. Slaughter.
After serving as an assistant athletic director at Maryland, Driesell resurrected his coaching career at James Madison and finished up at Georgia State, which lost to Maryland in the 2001 NCAA tournament, the first time the Terps reached the Final Four.