UAM loses another legendary head coach
Barely seven months after the University of Arkansas at Monticello bid farewell to the greatest women’s basketball coach in school history, perhaps the greatest men’s basketball coach in UAM annals has passed away.
Gary Allen Sharpe Sr. died peacefully at his home in Brunswick, Ga. last Thursday. He was 70.
In 1985-86, Sharpe’s first year in Monticello, he led the Boll Weevils to the precipice of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship. His 26 victories that season still stands as the most single-season wins by a UAM men’s basketbal team.
After defeating four consecutive national seeds during the national tournament in Kansas City, Mo. that winter, Sharpe’s unseeded Weevils finished as the national runners-up to David Lipscomb College of Nashville, Tenn. (now Lipscomb University). No other UAM men’s basketball coach has even been in a position to accomplish that.
In six seasons at the Weevil helm, Sharpe won 103 games and became one of only four coaches at UAM to reach the century mark in victories. His .557 winning percentage (103-82) ranks him third among UAM men’s coaches in that statistic.
Sharpe was born on July 20, 1948, in Savannah, Ga. and attended H.V. Jenkins High School, where he was a star athlete—lettering in both basketball and baseball. After graduation, he attended Erskine College in Due West, S.C. on a basketball and baseball scholarship.
There, he was a four-year letterman in both sports, served as the captain of both teams, served as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and received the college’s Jake Todd Award for Outstanding Athlete. He was inducted into the Erskine Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.
In 1972, Sharpe returned home to his high school alma mater and began his coaching career. He was selected as the conference coach of the year in 1973. According to Sharpe’s obituary, his dream was to be college basketball coach and he was afforded this opportunity at Brewton-Parker (Ga.) College in 1977, where he also served as the athletic director.
At Brewton-Parker, he averaged 22 wins a year and was named Georgia Junior College Athletic Association Coach of the Year in 1978. Sharpe was inducted into the Brewton-Parker Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.
UAM, where he also served as athletic director, was Sharpe’s next—and final—coaching stop. While he loved coaching basketball, his obituary said, in 1992 he made the choice to focus on athletic administration in order to have more time to devote to his son Allen’s basketball career.
He served as athletic director at Union College in Kentucky, Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Avila College in Kansas City, the Henry County School System and the Glynn County School System, where he was named Region Athletic Director of the Year in 2007 and 2008. He retired in 2012. After his retirement, Gary was inducted into the Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame.
In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Erskine, Sharpe also obtained a master’s degree in physical education from the University of West Alabama, and an Education Specialist in physical education from the University of West Georgia.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Rebecca Reynolds Sharpe; his children, Katy Sharpe (Brent) Sammons and Allen (Susan) Sharpe (also a former UAM head men’s basketball coach); his grandchildren, Elliot Sammons, Lydia Sammons, Garrison Sharpe, Ally Sharpe and Anderson Sharpe; two brothers, Tim (Becky) Sharpe and Gerald (Nancy) Sharpe; and his sister, Joann Sharpe (Allen) Spivey.
He was eulogized and buried Tuesday at Greenwich Cemetery in Savannah.