Former Wake Forest basketball coach Carl Tacy died this morning at the age of 87 after battling leukemia.
Known to many as “Gentleman Carl”, Tacy is the third-winningest coach in Wake Forest history, behind only Murray Greason and Dave Odom. He was 222-149 as the head coach from the 1972-73 season to the 1984-85 season. His career coaching record was 245-153, adding in his one season at Marshall before he was hired as the head coach at Wake Forest by athletic director Dr. Gene Hooks.
Carl led two Wake Forest teams to the Elite Eight, the 1976-77 team and the 1983-84 team. He is one of two Wake Forest coaches to lead two different teams to the Elite Eight, with the other being Horace “Bones” McKinney. Four of Tacy’s Deacon teams made the NCAA Tournament, including three in his last five years as coach. The other two of his last five teams both made the NIT.
Among the players he coached, three now have their jerseys retired in the rafters of Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum- #14 Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, #15 Skip Brown, and #32 Rod Griffin.
Coach Tacy’s teams dominated the old “Big Four Tournament” (a tournament that was held every year in which the four North Carolina ACC schools would play each other) and my dad and grandpa told me the story of how Carl figured out how to beat Dean Smith’s “Four Corners” offense where his North Carolina teams would score and then hold the ball in the corners in the era before the shot clock. According to them, when asked by reporters what he had done to beat it, Tacy replied that he couldn't reveal that to them because then everybody would know and it could no longer be his strategy.
On a more personal note, Coach Tacy is probably the reason why I am such a passionate Wake Forest fan today. He was the one who got my grandpa involved in the Deacon Club in the 1970s, which later allowed my grandpa to get tickets to the basketball games when I was growing up in the 2000s and tickets were sometimes hard to come by.
On Sundays after church we would often go to lunch with my grandparents at the K&W, as that was where they liked to go. Many times we would see Coach Tacy and his wife, Donnie, there and on occasion they would sit with us. Carl always made it a point to ask how I was doing in school, and once I was at Wake Forest as a student he wanted to know how I liked it and how it was going.
When my grandpa passed away in March of 2016, Carl was one of the first people in line for receiving at the funeral home.
Rest in peace, Carl. You will be missed.