Fairmont State University joins the state of West Virginia in mourning the loss of a Falcon legend, men’s basketball coach Joe Retton. As the namesake for the Fairmont State basketball arena and a beloved member of the Falcon community, news of his passing on Wednesday morning brought a deep sense of loss to the entire campus.
Retton was head men’s basketball coach for the Falcons from 1963-82, compiling a record of 478-95 in his 19 seasons on the Fairmont State bench. During his tenure, Retton led the Falcons to 12 West Virginia Conference regular season titles and eight tournament championships.
“The excellence that Coach Retton demonstrated on the court and off the court permeates the halls of our University,” said Fairmont State President Dr. Mirta M. Martin. “The Falcon family grieves with the Retton family for the tremendous loss of a legend.”
Retton earned numerous coach of the year honors during his time at Fairmont State, including twice as NAIA National Coach of the Year (1969, 1976). He also earned Associated Press Small College Coach of the Year in 1976, and was a six-time WVIAC Coach of the Year.
Retton is a 1987 inductee into the NAIA Hall of Fame, and was also selected to the West Virginia Sports Writers Hall of Fame in 1988. He was inducted into Fairmont State’s inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame class in 1993.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Fairmont State legend Joe Retton’s passing,” said Acting Director of Athletics Chad Fowler. “The rich basketball tradition at Fairmont State began during Joe’s time as head coach of our men’s basketball program.
“His record and honors on the court are just a small part of what Joe means to the entire Fairmont State community,” Fowler continued. “But, the relationships he has formed with players, administrators and the community is what makes today’s news so difficult.
“We grieve with the Retton family during this difficult time and hope that Joe’s legacy will live on as a legendary part of sports history at Fairmont State University.”